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‘Park In Sky’

architecture, park in sky

New York City will soon be receiving a brand new stretch of green space as the once-abandoned High Line railway is renovated to become a lush public park. Designed to capture the majesty of both nature and NYC’s industrial ruins, the first section of the elevated garden promenade is set open this June.

From the Friends of the High Line Park:

‘In just a few months, the first section of the High Line will open to the public. Section 1 of the park runs through the Meatpacking District and the southernmost blocks of Chelsea, from Gansevoort St. to 20th St. An exact opening date has yet to be set, but is likely to fall in early June. The second section, from 20th St. to 30th St., is projected to open one year later.

To get ready for the High Line’s debut, contractors are now putting the finishing touches on the park’s landscape, in the final stage of the landscape work that began more than a year ago. First, the construction crew installed the High Line’s pathways, made of long, smooth, concrete planks. The planks were designed to taper at their ends to allow the plantings to push up between them, just as grass grew up in the gravel ballast of the original High Line rail bed. Many of the High Line’s original steel railroad tracks have been returned to their locations, integrated into the planting beds.

The beds themselves were then prepared, using a layered system much like a typical green roof. Several layers of specialized material — a perforated drainage mat, pea gravel and filter fabric, were installed to aid in soil drainage. Two layers of soil — a coarse subsoil and a nutrient-rich topsoil — were then delivered and spread into the planting beds. At the same time, lighting, irrigation and rodent-proofing systems were installed.

Last fall, a team of landscape specialists began working to bring the High Line’s planting beds to life, as envisioned by planting designer Piet Oudolf. Since then, the one-of-a-kind landscape has taken shape block by block. With the help of landscape contracting company Siteworks, the Section 1 environment of hardy perennials, textural grasses, shrubs and trees has taken root on the High Line.

There are roughly 210 different plant species in the beds of Section 1, ranging from a meadow-like mix of asters, goldenrod and big bluestem grass in the low beds of the Sundeck, to a grove of gray birch and serviceberry trees as part of the Gansevoort Woodland.

Besides the planting work, several of the High Line’s special design features are nearing completion. The monumental ‘Slow Stairs’ are now in place at the future High Line access point at Gansevoort St. This blocklong staircase rises from street level, underneath the High Line, to cut through the steel of the structure itself. Visitors will ascend along the staircase, coming face to face with the High Line’s heavy steel girders and hand-driven rivets, before emerging into the wild landscape above. With the adjacent site being planned as the new Whitney Museum, the southern terminus of the High Line is set to become one of the city’s liveliest new public spaces.’

Published with permission of ArchiCentral.

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