The High Line is a 1.5 mile elevated railway winding through Manhattan's West Side, which has been transformed from a decaying industrial relic into a public park. Inspired by the melancholic, “found” beauty of the Highline, the design team aimed to re-fit this industrial conveyance into a post-industrial instrument of leisure, while retaining the wild, other-worldliness of the original. Visitors promenade through the street grid 30 feet in the air, their path highlighted by lit handrails, illuminated benches, and accentuated areas of vegetation. All light fixtures are below eye-level, creating a glare free, dream-like view of the cityscape. A lit frame is found at select vistas on the promenade, inviting viewers to literally view and be viewed - the city and the city dwellers become a cinematic experience, framed by light.
Nighttime views of the surrounding city were paramount, therefore typical pole lights were judged a distraction. Instead, a custom, continuous LED handrail- developed as the “work-horse” for the project- is integrated into the handrails, and enhances the sensation of being lifted and floated above the city streets as it silhoettes the highline. A total of 90% of all the light fixtures are LED due to compact size, directional optics, lamp life, and durability outdoors. In the evening, gentle lighting provides the edges and seating areas of the park with a warm glow, while preserving the calm feel of a darkening park at night.
The warm LED glow also emphasizes the unique nature of flora-filled green areas interspersed throughout the highline's pathway, enticing visitors to linger before propelling them onward. Highlighting the natural features of the highline with integrated fixtures allows the space to harken back to wilder days while never sacrificing a sense of safety, or the gorgeous view.
Architect: Diller, Scofidio + Renfro Landcape Architect: Field Operations