Urban Design always impresses me. Generally what is meant by Urban Design is also redesigning and improving the present city into a sustainable city for the next hundreds of years as a result of the rapid development during the post colonial or war times that only sees the need of population support related development. Over the world, there are many cities, particularly in first world countries, striving to improve their urban landscape. Many Cities such as Shanghai, Chicago, Copenhagen have been doing well, New York does well with High Line in this context.
The High Line is a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side. It is owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. Founded in 1999 by community residents, Friends of the High Line fought for the High Line’s preservation and transformation at a time when the historic structure was under the threat of demolition. It is now the non-profit conservancy working with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make sure the High Line is maintained as an extraordinary public space for all visitors to enjoy.
There are many reasons to praise the High Line, i will share 5 reasons from my point of view.
1) Common Space – One of the priority of Urban Design is Common Space, places that the public shares, anyone could just come and share the space for various purpose and activities. Places that are meant to be leisure and a common node for anyone to meet up, places that often be a park, such as central parks in many areas, or as well as KLCC Park at the bottom of Petronas Twin Towers. These spaces is crucial as more spaces in the cities are taken for economic purpose for the benefit of a certain party or individual. What we see here is encouraging.
2) Urban Greenery - The idea of linear park is deeply encouraging, especially in a concrete city like New York. What’s interesting is that such “floating” Linear park gives people an additional interest to explore it. It offers people a different view of the city landscape like never before. Furthermore, we see that there is a need for people to get out of the office and enjoy a fresh breath of air. Also, it is above the traffic congestion! That gives people a better reason to escape from the daily scene of urban congestion and traffic noise. Green landscapes certainly means a lot in an urban context, in most understanding, common spaces like parks are often seen as romantic spaces!
3) Respecting the Past - I always believe that in Urban Redesigning, when we want to improve a city or a house or a structure, we should respect the past, respect the investments being done and also the memories laid with it. High Line has done well in this. In the 30 years time to come, grandparents can share to their grandchildren that this is the train they used to take during the late 19th century or something like this. It’s also a good act of Reusing infrastructure and there is many reasons again behind environmental reasons and carbon offset calculations etc. Structures or Building certainly embeds certain memories that make people appreciate it.
4) Uniting Community – Another reason is that High Line has been successfully in uniting communities together. High line is taken care by Friends of High Line. If you follow their website HERE, you will find the community has been united through a common responsibility in improving public spaces. High Line is a linear park that certainly needs funds to run it’s maintenance for its landscape. Friends of the High Line has been gathering to do gardening or upkeep task. It’s a way to interact people, or to share hobbies or common points of life.
5) Different Sections, Different Perspectives - It is know that High Line has different sections that has different landscapes and also built environment. It was assured that the high line is not boring of a linear park with constant same design, It gives people a noted memorable landscape node. Following is an illustration on the different prototypes of the sitting and activities related amenities. Personally i really love the Peel Up typology! It’s interesting enough to gain attraction!
And yes i am so inspired that High line and Friends of the High Line has their own website here to connect communities to each other and raise the many awareness of the presence of this High Line. Read HERE.
There are certainly too much for me to digest about New York’s highline over night, It has many recognition, user experience and also user experience i would like to share. Recently, the High line was awarded by Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. Read the press Release at HERE.
“Chairman of the Prize Nominating Committee, Kishore Mahbubani said: “The City of New York is an inspiring story of urban rejuvenation. With bold vision, strong leadership, sheer determination, and excellent partnership between government and citizens, there is now a new sense of direction in the city. It has regained its perch as one of the most exciting cities in the world.” Please seeAnnex A for the jury citation on the City of New York.”
Also another thing to look forward at will be the next development phase of the similar abandoned rail lines. The “Low Line” is going to be proposed as an underground park instead. Read it more HERE .
“That technology was conceived by the LowLine’s founders, Dan Barasch and James Ramsey, and would use fiber optic cables to fill the subterranean space with natural light and living plants. The proposed site is an unused and long neglected 13-acre former subway stop on Delancey Street, built in 1903 in New York’s Lower East Side. While they imagine the park serving the local community it is found in, they also imagine this park becoming a model for the reappropriation of other, long-forgotten gems found in cities all over the world. It’s the kind of space that childhood daydreams are made of”
As for my personal opinion, i doubt an underground park could really mean a lot to the public. Park has always been associated with wide span of sighting availability and also vast ventilation and sunlight. As much as Ramsey could bring in vast amount of lights into the underground park. But we certainly lack of good air quality and also personal sight freedom here. But to revive the area, it certainly added a point to common space, in which many urban areas would need it.