2011 Awards of Excellence: High Line

High Line Sideview
The High Line's planting design is inspired by the
self-seeded landscape that grew on the out-of-use
elevated rail tracks during the 25 years after trains
stopped running.

Intensive Institutional

Project: High Line, Manhattan, NY – 230,000 square foot green roof
Client: Friends of the High Line
Award Recipient: Kelco Construction, Inc. (Installer of Green Roof System, Vegetation and Irrigation)
Landscape Architect: James Corner Field Operations
Architect: Diller, Scofidio + Renfro
MEP Engineering: Buro Happold
Structural Engineering/Historic Preservation: Robert Silman
Planting Design: Piet Oudolf
General Construction Contractor: CAC Industries
Lighting: L’Observatoire International
Signs: Pentagram Design, Inc.

With the thousands of people that visit the High Line every single day, it could be argued that the High Line receives more attention than any green roof in the world at the present time.
- Dylan Peck, Head Project Manager, Kelco Construction, Inc.
High Line Grasses
The species of perennials, grasses, shrubs
and trees were chosen for their hardiness,
sustainability, and textural and color
variation, a focus on native species.

A New Green Vein Running Through Manhattan

The High Line is a public park built on a 1.45-mile-long elevated rail structure running from Gansevoort Street to West 34th Street on Manhattan's West Side. Originally a freight rail line, the High Line was in operation from 1934 to 1980, and it carried meat to the meat packing district, agricultural goods to the factories and warehouses of the industrial West Side, and mail to the Post Office.

The High Line is inherently a green structure. It re-purposes a piece of industrial infrastructure as public green space. The High Line landscape functions essentially like a green roof; porous pathways contain open joints, so water can drain between planks and water adjacent planting beds, cutting down on the amount of storm-water that runs off the site into the sewer system.

The High Line's green roof system is designed to allow the plants to retain as much water as possible. In addition, there is an irrigation system with options for both automatic and manual watering. This system will be particularly important in the first few years as the plants establish themselves, but less necessary over time.

High Line Underpass
Many of the species that originally grew on the
High Line's rail bed are incorporated into the
park's landscape.

In fall 2004, FHL and the City of New York jointly selected a design team for the High Line through a six-month design competition. The team of James Corner Field Operations, a landscape architecture firm, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, an architecture firm, includes planting designer Piet Oudolf and experts in the fields of horticulture, engineering, lighting, public art, cost estimating, maintenance planning, security, and other relevant disciplines.

The public space blends plant life (reminiscent of the quiet contemplative nature of the self-seeded landscape and wild plantings that once grew on the unused High Line) with long, narrow "planks," forming a smooth, linear, virtually seamless walking surface. The public environment on the High Line contains special features, including a water feature, viewing platforms, a sundeck, and gathering areas to be used for performances, art exhibitions and educational programs.

High Line Accessibility
The High Line has created a vegetated
sanctuary for both present and future
generations of visitors and inhabitants of
New York City.

The High Line has rigorous maintenance requirements and the Friends of the High Line, many of whose members are volunteers, are responsible for maintaining this wonderful space. This organization seeks to preserve the entire historic structure and continue the transformation of an essential piece of New York’s industrial past. Through stewardship, innovative design and programming, and excellence in operations, the High Line is increasingly serving as a vibrant community hub.


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To view pictures and profiles of the other 2010 winners, please return to our 2010 awards page.

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