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Up Close and Very Personal With Phase II of the High Line

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Two years ago the renderings for the next section of the High Line were revealed, showing enough high design to make our heads spin. The Phase II delay until mid-2011 has added to the anticipation, and led to several covert glimpses of what's going on thirty feet above West Chelsea. We don't have to sneak around any longer. To mark the first anniversary of Phase I's opening, Friends of the High Line unlocked the gates on the sequel (running north to 30th Street) and gave the media an early peek. Here's what we found.

This next phase, funded as before by a mix of private contributions and public funding, contrasts mightily with the original stretch of park winding through the Meatpacking District. The extension runs in a straight line parallel to Tenth Avenue from West 20th up to West 28th Street, where the neighboring buildings rise high against the old railbed. Apartment windows are within arms length, giving new meaning to public-private partnership. For now, before the High Line woodlands and thickets get planted and while all the high-tech concrete plankings and metal fly-overs are being installed, the proximity between rails and residents is both a bit unnerving and a tad tantalizing.

Residents of buildings both new and old will be making all sorts of awkward eye contact with High Liners. At 23rd Street, where a park entry with glass elevator is going in and a long green lawn will spread to the south, the slanting windows at architect Neil Denari's HL23 will give ample opportunity to see and be seen. Across the rails to the east sits a swell little deck, tucked away amidst the trees; long-time residents there must be praying for a thicket or three to thwart voyeurs and screen the views.

Woodlands await a block north, where the blinding brightness of the empty and in-limbo 245 Tenth Avenue rises. Just to the west, above 24th Street, a private patio sheltered by a rustic fence may soon be private no more, sitting as it does only inches from the park's edge. At 27th Street, the new 303 Tenth backs up to the High Line, with windows rising high and a wooden terrace stretching low below the park. Here an aromatic Wildflower Field will help to keep things sweet (and mask the pleasures of the vast metal scrap yard to the west).

Above 28th Street the sky widens and Midtown's towers hover in the distance like Oz. A wide curve leads to 30th Street, and there the design team of James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro have opened up the old trestle, exposing the steel for a glass covered cut-out that will mark the end point of Phase II. From here the Hudson River can be seen, and the vast open space of the West Side Rail Yards lies just to the north. Things are falling in place for the High Line to acquire that final stretch of tracks and turn it into Phase III, which will run for another 1/2 mile around the 26-acre Hudson Yards development. Who know what crazy stuff the designers will dream up for that one, but hopefully an inner tube lazy river is at the top of their list.
High Line New Renderings Reveal: Phase Two [Curbed]
· High Line Section 2 coverage [Curbed]

West 20th Street at 10th Avenue, New York, NY