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The Naked Highline

Lights on the High Line



Last night’s twinkling of lights
on the new section of the High Line (my little patch is between 22nd and 23rd Streets) made me think about the lighting throughout the park. It was designed by Hervé Descottes of L’Observatoire International, a lighting design firm based in New York.  What’s most remarkable — in a city of blaring, flashing lights — is the restraint that Descottes imposed on his design. The chief example of this is the fact that all the lighting is set below eye level. Never on the High Line will you turn away from something because there’s light in your eyes, and never will you quickly turn around to look at something because it’s cast in a spot light. Like great book design you don’t immediately “see” it; it’s so well integrated into the narrative that it only enables it, never overpowers or even suggests itself.

This is a city of big egos, filled with designers and architects whose work constantly pulls at you. “Look at me, over here, see this detail, this brilliant effect.” With the lighting on the High Line Descottes did something entirely different. He lights the path — an important piece of business — and he places soft, lovely, LED lights under the guard rails and here and there amid the plants. It seems at once random and planned, and in any case completely organic to the park’s overall design.

I had no idea what it would look like out there once the new section of High Line opened, and I confess I worried about the lights. Would they pierce the living room window, like the old Chase Bank did before the (even more garishly lit) condo-in-progress blocked it?

Last night the lights popped on for the first time, against a backdrop of rain, thunder, and lightning.  There was no one there — no workmen, no tourists — just the twinkling glow against the evergreens. Hats off to you, Mr. Descottes.

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Rebar!

As someone who has both renovated and built a house from scratch I find the presence of rebar disprortionately exciting. In relation to what, you might ask? Anything, really.


So this morning I was thrilled to see that, since last I gazed out my window, little piles of bright green rebar have been laid on the High Line. Notice (you’ll have to enlarge the photo to do this – just double-click it) how the concrete pilings have all been labeled with a super-huge Sharpie (or some other painting tool I obviously now need to own): SL9-T. The High Line is like a gigantic puzzle and all the pieces are carefully marked before assembly. Even the rails have been inscribed (in yellow) with some sort of labeling system, but I can’t make it out. And see how the rails rest on the concrete pilings, across those little iron beds that have been embedded in the concrete? They’ll get moved around for sure, but remember that you saw it here first.

I changed my lens to the 70 – 210 mm (yeah, okay, technically it’s Ann’s lens but I co-opted it long ago) to capture some of the detail that eluded the smaller (18 – 7- mm) wide angle lens.


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Blizzard

We’ve been warned before but after many snow flame-outs I think everyone in New York went to bed last night doubting this “blizzard” would amount to much. And here we are with a city-wide snow day.

Meantime, down on the High Line, the snow gathers on stacks of rail ties.

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Neither rain nor snow…

It was a slushy downpour today: a combination of driving rain/snow that landed on every surface and materialized into slush. Including the guys in orange slickers who were toling away down on the High Line. I was setting up my camera as the machine to the right rolled by, so I had some serendipity (it’s rare to catch a moving machine on the High Line…), but given the lack of light and the little time I had to get the settings right, the photo is a bit of a blur. But you can see much intriguing stuff down there: rail ties set out on concrete beds on the eastern side and a stack of materials ready to be laid on the western edge.


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