INTERVIEW: Landscape Architect James Corner On NYC’s High Line Park

by , 09/20/14

High Line Oversized Furniture on Railroad Tracks

Jill: What’s your favorite part of the High Line?

James: Everyone asks this question, and it’s really hard to say. I like this area around Gansevoort because it’s really the moment where you leave the hard concrete and steel of the street level, come into the garden, and really see the sky and a complete panoramic view. But what we call the ‘Sundeck at 14th Street’ is another great social space with big, over-sized furniture. Then there is also this wonderful spot, the 10th Avenue Square, where seating has been installed to overlook 10th Avenue. These are all great places, but at the end of the day, the most important thing to me is the fact that the High Line is this green ribbon. So when you say, “What’s your favorite part?” it’s not that there’s a favorite part, but it’s that there’s a favorite experience – it is the experience in the duration of time that it takes to walk from Gansevoort to 20th Street. You go through an amazing succession of episodes, and for me, it‘s this choreography and experience of this that is really the most exciting and original part of this project.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro, high line, high line new york city, james corner field operations, Landscape Architecture, native plants, sustainable design, Urban design, urban green space

Jill: Is there a particular experience you want people to have when they come up here or a hope that you have for how people experience this?

James: I don’t think you can ever determine what people will feel, how they will emote or what they will experience. Different people come up here and feel different things and have a different set of experiences. But what I do hope is that we will have succeeded in getting people to experience the delight in the sense of finding things. What’s great about the High Line is that there are nooks, crannies and hideaways. There are vistas and vantage points. You can turn one way and find yourself looking north up at 10th Avenue, but if you turn the other way you’ll see the Statue of Liberty. There are amazing discoveries to be made and if people come up here and find delight in that, then I think we’ve succeeded.

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  1. hortus5 November 1, 2014 at 10:52 am

    What would the High Line be without the plants? Really wish the “landscape” architect would have mentioned Piet Oudolf’s contribution and collaboration on the High Line. The omission leads readers to assume that the plantings were entirely conceived and created by Mr. Corner. I feel a very large part of the High Line’s success is due to the horticulture component. Proper credit should be give where credit is due.

  2. MattCicle7 March 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    LANDSCAPE architect!!!

  3. anothervoice July 25, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Jill –

    Has there been any review of the change in property values adjacent to the Highline Park?

  4. quercuslogica June 25, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Slight correction to the title of the article, James Corner is a Landscape Architect.

  5. eileen April 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I love this !!

  6. anothervoice April 16, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Easily my favorite urban park. Or any park for that matter. And for me the value is more than doubled because the referential design approach lost nothing of the original derelict. That aspect was kept and amplified and enhanced and there’s such a richness to this space. New Yorkers are indeed lucky and I hope to have an opportunity to visit the park in person one day.

  7. jillyt November 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    And, I wish they would start using the street ampitheater for performing arts events — what a perfect venue!

  8. jillyt November 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I love this park so much! I had the chance to sneak in in 2004, pre development, and will always feel like a supersleuth when I visit the public version now. What a great reclamation.

  9. Michael Van Valkenburgh... September 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    […] of the highlights of the proposed plan include lowering the I-70 as it runs downtown and creating a rooftop park that will connect the memorial to both the downtown area and the Old Courthouse. Moreover a larger […]

  10. Main Station Stuttgart:... August 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    […] the tracks 12 meters below the surface and open up the space for a 42,000 sq meter public park. The new urban park will also extend into the adjacent “Schlossgarten” or castle gardens, which act as the […]

  11. Diane Pham August 23, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Such a thoughtful design in terms of urban experience, nature, history and so much more. James Corner is truly talented and definitely understands the importance of adaptive reuse of public areas for just that – the public.

  12. scantando August 23, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Thank you for providing this interview! I would like to visit the park at some point. I have only ever seen it as The Bolt Bus I was riding drove by it. I live in Philly and I am waiting for this city to step it up and start innovating with these unique green renovation projects. I am a believer that many of the sustainable efforts that are going to happen in the future will involve upgrading existing infrastructure rather than new construction.

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