Along a 1.5-mile stretch on Manhattan’s West Side, extending from the Meatpacking District north through Chelsea and into Clinton, an elevated railway sat decaying for many years. Constructed between 1929 and 1934 as part of the West Side Improvement Project, the railway was conceived to reduce rail traffic on city streets and to provide freight delivery access to the upper-level loading docks of area warehouses and other industrial buildings. Abandoned after 1980, its venerable rail beds were left to decay, resulting in a rare urban ruin.
Recognizing that demolition was likely imminent, the Friends of the High Line stepped in 1999 to advocate for the transformation of the railway ruins into space for public use. was one of 720 firms worldwide that proposed solutions for this compelling civic project in the 2003 “Designing the High Line” ideas competition.
The firm’s premise for the project: “Every city has its own logical urban structure, generated and shaped by its design, history, and geography. Every site has its own morphological character, shaped by its relationship with nature as well as with the built environment.
After assessing the needs of the neighborhood, proposed a linear system of urban gardens along the elevated rail beds with markets and social functions situated below, allowing area residents and visitors alike to actively participate in this remarkable renaissance. The concept was to preserve the history and remnants of the obsolete railway while weaving the neighborhoods along its spine together, converting a perceived wedge into a cohesive seam.