The Highline

Musuem of Modern Art, New York | 2005
PUBLISHING info: Publication ?



The High Line was the first of a series of in-depth exhibitions, developed to focus on one project under construction at the time of exhibition.


The High Line is an out-of-use elevated rail structure that runs along Manhattan’s far West Side, from Gansevoort Street to 34th Street. Constructed in 1929–34, the High Line was a response to the need for safe, efficient freight transit within the city. Its elevation and mid-block location eliminated the danger of street-level tracks and the noise, inadequate lighting, and divisiveness characteristic of elevated lines that traditionally run above avenues. With the development of interstate highways, rail freight declined. In 1963, parts of the High Line were demolished, and by 1980, the trains stopped running. Today the Line stands as a beautiful vestige of an industrial, urban infrastructure, reclaimed by nature.

In September 2004, a design team led by Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro was selected by Friends of the Line and the City of New York to convert the High Line into open, public space. Inspired by the Line’s unruly, melancholic beauty and by the desire to preserve the sense of unhurriedness, otherworldliness, and distraction to which its suspended form lends itself, their preliminary design comprises a responsive, flexible framework. A hard layer of planking integrated with a soft layer of vegetation creates a combed carpet of hills, pits, flyovers, woodlands, grasslands, and wetlands. These elements form a series of variegated atmospheres along which unscripted movement can occur. Access points, primary and splinter paths, seating, event spaces, night-time lighting, guardrails, and mid-block vistas are fluidly integrated along the twenty-two-block expanse.

The most current phase of development, completed in February 2005 and to which this exhibition is dedicated, focuses on preliminary designs for Gansevoort Street through 15th Street. Photographs by Joel Sternfeld on the far wall capture the High Line’s present condition. In the latter two galleries works from the Museum's Architecture and Design collection place the Highline within a contemporary discourse, juxtaposing it with projects that similarly invoke an intersection of landscape, architecture, and urbanism.

Work: Curating