We could not call ourselves architects, or even New Yorkers, if we did not visit and comment on the newly (and partially) opened Highline.
Our weekly Mapos derive took us to the West side and up a flight of stairs. While crowded with enthusiastic tourists, citizens and parkophiles, it still felt like a secluded discovery. The new prespectives that the highline gives you are impressive, and yes, exciting. I have always felt a bit of disappointment when visiting newly opened architectural “wonders.” It’s a bit logical, actually; how can the real thing live up to the hype? The Highline, however, quickly fell into the elite Mapos category of “Better than Expected,” joining Scarpa’s Castelvecchio and OMA’s Seattle Library. In fact, the only criticism I could utter was not really a criticism: “let’s see how it looks in the middle of January.” Well, OK, I do wish the end at Gansevoort was a little more end-like. Pull back the guardail 5 feet and let the steel girders stretch out from under our feet?
Besides the lofty perch, the other quality most admired would be it’s relationship to the existing buildings. Over. Under. Through. Beside. Old and forgotten surfaces, never meant for prime-time viewing, now get thrust into the limelight. I hope they remain as gritty, banal, and textured as they are now. That’s what makes the perspective so unique. Other highlights are the beautiful details, first and foremost the concrete “fingers” that perform a constant back-and-forth with the landscape. Smart. Simple. Effective.
Visit. Walk. Look. Enjoy. It’s hard to imagine this was ever thought of as an eyesore.