The Creative Process Behind New York’s Iconic High Line
James Corner is one of the premiere theorists and practitioners of landscape architecture, a field that emphasizes the design of outdoor and public spaces to achieve specific environmental, socio-behavioral, and aesthetic outcomes. The principal designer at James Corner Field Operations, a New York-based architecture firm, Corner focuses on landscape urbanism, an amalgamation of a wide range of disciplines including landscape architecture, ecology, and urban design. In a conversation with associate editor Jared Keller, Corner discusses the creative process behind New York’s now-iconic elevated park, The High Line, whose second section opened in June.
With the High Line, we had this extraordinary artifact that in some ways was an ugly duckling, something with potential. At the turn of the century, it was derelict; the concrete and steel and tracks were obviously in disrepair, the rails rusted, the wood cracked. Most people at the time thought it should be torn down. But where some people saw dereliction, others saw inspiration. It was in the landscape running along those broken tracks. The photographs of Joel Sternfeld (fine-art color photography and publisher of Walking the High Line (2002), an anthology focusing on the railway) had a remarkable influence in allowing people to view this thing as something with potential rather than something to be skeptical of. Running for a mile and a half through the west side of Manhattan, there’s a remarkable dialogue between nature and industry—or rather, post-industry—suspended 30 feet in the air.
Photographs, schematics, landscape ecology, and more at The Atlantic