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The High Line; A New Architectural Typology by Daniela Contreras Panesso

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The High Line is a project that changed the possibilities of how public space can be created in urban areas. The redesigned train track that ran through the Meatpackers District now serves as an elevated park. The High Line develops a new architectural typology, one that takes advantage of existing infrastructure and transforms it into spaces of social infrastructure.

The High Line made the concept of adaptive reuse cool. This is incredibly important due to the avoidance of carbon emissions on structural elements as well as preserving the history of a place. The highline increased accessible green spaces for New Yorker’s, embraced local history and revitalized a whole neighborhood in Manhattan through taking what was already there, and making it better. It was beautiful to hear how the design process for the High Line was about centering what mattered most to the public. The job of DS+R was to translate those needs into design principles and eventually a place.

“High Line Principles:

Keep it simple
Keep it wild
Keep it quiet
Keep it slow”


Atmospheres WILL GROW HERE
Micro Climates WILL GROW HERE
Connections WILL GROW HERE
Nocturnal Life WILL GROW HERE
Communities WILL GROW HERE”

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These principles are still very palpable 14 years after the High Line’s phase one opening. DS+R’s design sensitivity has engaged people through the design of plantings, seating, water features, lookout points and exhibition spaces along the High Line. Hearing about how much the design team cared about their audience, keeping authenticity and designing a park in the best way possible was truly inspiring. The presence of the High Line was the catalyst for the presence of exciting new architecture in Chelsea such as the Whitney Museum by Renzo Piano and Little Island by Heatherwick Studio. 

The High Line is iconic for the precedent that it sets, the space that it is and the possibilities it opened. Through centering a healthy community of human and nonhuman communities the High Line has set a precedent for using what we have and making it better by design. 

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