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ART IN FOCUS

Liz Diller   The High Line · New York City

World-renowned architect Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, reflects on the history of the High Line, its phenomenal success and how it has changed New York City.

“The High Line, if it’s about anything, it’s about nothing, about doing nothing. You can walk and sit, but you can’t be productive,” explains Diller.

The High Line, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with landscape architects James Corner Field Operations and Piet Oudolf, is a 1.5-mile long public park built on an abandoned elevated railroad stretching from the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards in Manhattan. Inspired by the melancholic, unruly beauty of this postindustrial ruin, where nature has reclaimed a once vital piece of urban infrastructure, the new park interprets its inheritance.
The High Line translates the biodiversity that took root after it fell into ruin in a string of site-specific urban microclimates along the stretch of railway that include sunny, shady, wet, dry, windy, and sheltered spaces. Through a strategy of agri-tecture—part agriculture, part architecture—the High Line surface is digitized into discrete units of paving and planting which are assembled along the 1.5 miles into a variety of gradients from 100% paving to 100% soft, richly vegetated biotopes.
The paving system consists of individual pre-cast concrete planks with open joints to encourage emergent growth like wild grass through cracks in the sidewalk. The long paving units have tapered ends that comb into planting beds creating a textured, “pathless” landscape where the public can meander in unscripted ways. The park accommodates the wild, the cultivated, the intimate, and the social. Access points are durational experiences designed to prolong the transition from the frenetic pace of city streets to the slow otherworldly landscape above.

Elizabeth Diller (b 1954), is a founding Partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, attended The Cooper Union School of Art and received a Bachelor of Architecture from the Cooper Union School of Architecture. Ms. Diller is a Professor of Architecture at Princeton University.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro is an interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, the visual arts, and the performing arts. The studio is led by four partners who work collaboratively with a staff of architects, artists and administrators.


CREDITS

Liz Diller | filmed by Out of Sync | NYC Oct 2013
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
Music | P. Tiehuis and T.Monk
Artworks courtesy | Joel Sternfeld and Luhring Augustine, New York


Photographs shown:

Joel Sternfeld A Peach Tree, October 2000 Print: 2012 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld A View with the Empire State Building, November 2000 Negative: 2000; Print: 2009 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld Looking East on 30th Street on a Late September Morning, 2000 2000 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld Looking East on 30th Street on a Monday Morning in May 2000 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld Looking Northwest from 29th Street, June 2000 Negative: 2000; Print: 2009 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld Looking South at 27th Street, September 2000 Negative: 2000; Print: 2009 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld Looking South on a May Evening (the Starrett-Lehigh Building), May 2000 Negative: 2000; Print: 2009 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld Looking South on an Afternoon in June, 2000 Negative: 2000; Print: 2009 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)

Joel Sternfeld Grape Hyacinth, April 2000 Digital C-print 39 1/2 X 50 inches (100.33 X 127 cm)
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