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EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Section 2 of the High Line Officially Opens!
Posted By Leonel Ponce On June 12, 2011 @ 9:00 am In Architecture,Green Space,Manhattan | 2 Comments
Like much of New York’s population, the Inhabitat team  has been eagerly awaiting the opening of section two of the High Line for months. Whether peeking through the fencing at the first section’s 20th Street park terminus, or following The Friends of the High Line website  and social media feeds , we could not crack the shroud of secrecy around this much-awaited project – until today. The journey begins at the park’s 20th Street intersection, where a dense landscape of shrubs and small trees obscures the view of the Neil Denari’s HL23 tower  and the High Line’s new section two, and makes a visitor feel like they are meandering a path through an overgrown forest!
The paving here at the “Chelsea Thicket” resembles that of the original southern section of the High Line , creating a sense of continuity from the previous design, but the ambiance is decidedly more private and intimate. Whereas in Section One , trees are generally planted individually or within regular geometric planters, in “The Thicket” vegetation defines the space. Views are carved out between the foliage as visitors zig-zag through, highlighting narrower segments of the city and revealing glimpses of specific buildings, such as the elegant, tapering HL23 residential tower by Neil Denari .
The High Line meanders up north through the thicket where shrubbery and trees fade away and a public plaza emerges. The 22nd Street Seating Steps and 23rd Street Lawn combine to form a pleasant lounging space – the first invitation to step off the High Line pavement and enjoy the park from within its vegetation. While flat and seemingly uninteresting on its own, the 4,900 square-foot lawn transforms into an exciting public space when activated in conjunction with the steps by park-goers. The seats, made in a similar architectural language and materials as the 10th Avenue Plaza, replicate the intimacy of the Chelsea Thicket, and indicate a point of repose within this exciting urban jungle. As you continue walking, it is clear that this lawn is not merely a flat patch of grass; the concrete slab on which it sits peels up from the rail line’s plane, rising like a periscope to afford loungers views of the neighborhood below, the Hudson River, and Midtown Manhattan skyline.
All photos © Inhabitat
The ramping lawn serves as a preview of what comes next, as the design team literally raised the bar for the High Line experience. Buro Happold  provided the structural engineering for Section 2 , which made the flyover possible. The firm used a sophisticated structure of thin columns to support the delicate “bridge on a bridge.” Buro Happold  wanted the structure to counterbalance the robust industrial steel structure of the High Line itself.
Within the Falcone Flyover, perhaps the most interesting and provocative part of the entire path, visitors are propelled eight feet above the park’s ground level via a steel catwalk set amidst a canopy of trees. The ascent, while not drastic in height, represents a complete shift in the architectural and spatial language of the rest of the project. Immersed in weird, huge-leafed magnolia trees, visitors finally feel at one with the vegetation — a feeling that is hinted at earlier in the Chelsea Thicket.
Along the course of the elevated “Falcone Flyover ” multiple metal platform “spurs” branch off in various directions to create intimate areas away from general foot traffic. One of these spurs, the “Viewing Spur” at 26th Street, abruptly drops off over the middle of the street, providing a lounging area, and viewing platform to the streets below. In addition to providing a view for visitors on top of the High Line, it also showcases High Line visitors for people on the street to see, framing them within the vestiges of a defunct billboard as a living advertisement for the park. From the rows of seats, this particular moment only stands out because it allows for unobstructed views of the city from within the Flyover, but from the street, the living advertisement and park goer exposure is clear. A pair of solid wooden bench serves as a background and balancing element for the public billboard. While exposed to the public below, those who choose to sit in front of this exhibitionist real-time billboard are comforted by the tall, warm embrace of these benches.
All photos © Inhabitat
Heading north from the Falcone Flyover, High Line visitors descend a ramp which returns them into the park’s standard vernacular. Concrete pavers reemerge on the rail platform, and continue in a generally straight path for a few blocks. Wildflower Field, as this segment of the park is called, is populated by a variety of native grasses and flowering plants that bloom at various points throughout the year, providing a changing band of colors and smells to be admired by the public. This section, however simple in its architectural representation, touches on the complex history of the High Line and its various iterations, reflecting the native flowers that became the subject of Joel Sternfeld’s photographs and eventually helped save the High Line from demolition. After being engulfed in leafy canopy, Wildflower Field provides a respite, a place to contemplate the visitor’s journey as well as that of the park.
The current extent of the High Line leads us to 30th Street, where the Cutout exposes the past and possible future of the park. Pedestrians are once again raised above the rail line, except in this case, the original structure is exposed beneath aluminum grating at their feet. The somewhat disorienting experience serves as an explicit reminder of the beauty of the original elevated freight line, and reveals some peeks down to street level and traffic below.
All photos © Inhabitat
Straight ahead, at the end of the line, visitors can see the remaining untouched segments of the line as the rails wrap around four square blocks that currently serve as the Hudson Rail Yard, finally descending into the underused site at 34th Street by the Hudson River Parkway. A public plaza called The Lot just opened up to occupy the empty lot next to the High Line at 30th Street, and for the next month, it will serve up food, kids stuff and other recreation under the surreal inflated bouncy castle-esque installation created by FriendsWithYou. Installations and activities in the lot will change throughout the summer. We can’t wait to check this weirdness out!
Bouncy castles and gigantic inflatable Japanimation heads aside, the true promise of the end of the High Line lies in the last section which snakes around the Hudson Rail Yard and ends at the Javits Center . If and when Friends of The High Line acquires this site, the original High Line proposal can be completed, and a comprehensive connection between elevated park and city streets will finally be made. Yesterday, Tiffany & Co. donated $5 million to launch the “Rail Yards Challenge,” a fundraising effort to drive the development of Section 3. Two other long-time supporters of the High Line, Donald Pels and Wendy Keys, also pledged an additional $5 million.
Meandering through dense shrubs, ascending through canopies and putting its visitors on display, the High Line’s Section 2 does not disappoint. This extension preserves the sustainable mission behind the groundbreaking original elevated park while delivering a variety of surprises and new experiences that enhance visitors’ connection to the park and its vegetation. It also continues to add different perspectives from which to appreciate this incredible city. We highly recommend both sections of the High Line  to anyone living in or visiting New York City  – they’re not to be missed!
All photos © Inhabitat
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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/exclusive-photos-of-new-york-citys-high-line-park-section-2/
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 High Line: http://inhabitat.com/new-yorks-high-line-park-in-the-sky-opens-today/
 Inhabitat: http://inhabitat.com/about
 While initial renderings: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/section-2-of-new-york-citys-high-line-park-opening-soon/
 James Corner Field Operations: http://www.fieldoperations.net/
 Diller Scofidio + Renfro: http://www.dsrny.com/
 The Friends of the High Line website: http://www.thehighline.org/
 social media feeds: http://www.facebook.com/thehighline
 Neil Denari’s HL23 tower: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/neil-denaris-hl23-luxury-building-set-to-open-with-section-2-of-the-high-line/
 Buro Happold: http://www.burohappold.com/BH/Home.aspx
 structural engineering for Section 2: http://www.burohappold.com/BH/PRJ_BLD_high_line.aspx
 Javits Center: http://www.javitscenter.com/
 High Line: http://inhabitat.com/tag/high-line
 New York City: http://inhabitat.com/nyc/
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