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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
April 2012
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: The High Line: A Park Above The City

Architectural Firm of the Month: James Corner Field Operations

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone paving stonesWelcome to the April issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it. If you are chosen, we will feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter, and highlight your firm as well. Click here to find out more about us!

Architectural Firm of the Month: James Corner Field Operations
High Line Meadow
Photo of High Line Park in New York, NY: A meandering pathway passes by old and new architecture in West Chelsea, between West 24th and West 25th Streets, looking South. ©Iwan Baan, 2011

James Corner Field Operations is a leading-edge landscape architecture and urban design practice based in New York City. Serving an international clientele, the practice is renowned for strong contemporary design across a variety of high-profile project types and scales.

Comprising 35 professionals, many with cross-disciplinary backgrounds in landscape architecture, urban design, architecture and communication art, the firm 's mandate is to create intelligent, high-quality design solutions for cities, landscapes and public spaces. Project types include: entire sectors of cities, intimate garden spaces, large public parks and urban spaces, housing and mixed use developments, the reclamation of landfills, brownfields and other post-industrial landscapes for new public uses and private development, and preservation of large-scale natural resources.   

Major projects include the design of the High Line, New York City; Fresh Kills Park, Staten Island; the pool deck and gardens of City Center, Las Vegas; Lake Ontario Park, Toronto; Shelby Farms Park, Memphis; The Race Street Pier, Philadelphia; Santa Monica Civic Center Parks, Santa Monica ; the San Juan Knowledge Corridor, Puerto Rico; Qianhai Water City, China; and the recently awarded Central Waterfront, Seattle.     

For more information visit:

Topic of the Month: The High Line: A Park Above The City       

High Line radial bench
Photo of High Line Park in New York, NY:
Radial Bench, a long wooden bench curves with the pathway for an entire city block, between West 28th and West 29th Streets, looking South. ©Iwan Baan, 2011

Imagine strolling along a raised walkway thoughtfully planted with wildflowers, grasses and gardens as city traffic bustles below and the urban landscape of the busiest metropolis in the world sprawls upward around you on your path. It may sound a bit surreal, but this describes High Line Park on New York City's west side, and not only is it good for the environment, but it provides a healthy dose of the tranquility of nature to Manhattan's residents and visitors.

The High Line Park is built on an historic elevated freight rail line that was constructed in the early 1930's as part of what was then the New York Central Railroad. The 30-foot-high structure lifted dangerous freight traffic off the streets of Manhattan's largest industrial district. Trains ran on the High Line from 1934 to 1980, but after that the structure fell into disrepair. It was under the threat of demolition until Friends of the High Line was formed in 1999 by community residents who advocated for its preservation. Now it is one of New York City's most unique, talked-about parks.

The design of High Line Park is a collaboration between James Corner Field Operations (Project Lead), Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and planting designer Piet Oudolf. Although much of the reclaimed railroad trestle has already been transformed into a lush urban grassway that meanders through city buildings in the neighborhoods of west side Manhattan, part of the park is still an active construction site.

The transformation of the High Line has been a huge undertaking and is being done in three parts. Section 1, the southernmost part of the High Line, runs along 10th Avenue from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District up to West 20th Street, and opened to the public in June of 2009. Section 2 runs between West 20th and West 30th Streets and opened in June of 2011. The High Line is now one mile in length, connecting three neighborhoods along the west side of Manhattan. Section 3, the third and final section of the historic structure, runs between West 30th and West 34th Streets and is now in the design phase.

Karen Tamir of James Corner Field Operations spoke with us about working on Phase II (Section 2) of the project. "We had to completely remove everything, just like we did in Section 1. As we removed everything we had to mark each of the railroad tracks so we could put them back later in the same place where they were. There were minor contaminants in the ballast material so everything had to be taken out." All of the existing surface material on the structure needed to be removed, including gravel ballast, soil, debris and a layer of concrete, down to the steel and concrete structure. "Then the High Line was completely waterproofed and the structure was refurbished and painted. We installed new soil and a green roof. The entire High Line has a green roof system. We also added access points." The park can be reached through nine entrances, four of which are accessible to people with disabilities. Construction of stairs and elevators allow visitors to access the High Line from street level. In some locations, beams are removed from the structure to allow stairs to rise up from the sidewalk, cutting through the center of the High Line structure and allowing visitors to come face-to-face with the steel beams and girders on their way up.

The construction of the park landscape is the final phase in the High Line's transition to a public park. The park's attractions include naturalized plantings that are inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the disused tracks and new, often unexpected views of the city and the Hudson River. Today, the High Line includes more than 300 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees, each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today.

The High Line design team created a sequence of varied environments within a cohesive and singular landscape. Some of the park's design and planting features include: the Chelsea Grasslands, the Chelsea Thicket, the 23rd Street Lawn and Seating Steps, the Philip A. and Lisa Maria Falcone Flyover, the 26th Street Viewing Spur, the Wildflower Field, the Radial Bench and the 30th Street Cut-Out and Viewing Platform.

The Chelsea Grasslands is an area where the design team filled the space with wild grasses and vibrant wildflowers that add color and texture throughout the four seasons. This section also gives visitors a unique perspective on the old and new architecture of the neighborhood. Between West 18th and West 19th Street, new buildings designed by Frank Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Annabelle Seldorf, Shigeru Ban, Audrey Matlock, and Della Valle Bernheimer are juxtaposed by the industrial brick architecture of the neighborhood's older factories and warehouses. As visitors move north from the Chelsea Grasslands' prairie-like landscape, a dense planting of flowering shrubs and small trees indicates the beginning of a new section of the park, between West 20th and West 22nd Streets. In the Chelsea Thicket, an under-planting of low grasses, hedges, and shade-tolerant perennials further emphasizes the transition from grassland to thicket. 

Between West 26th and West 29th Streets, the landscape of the Wildflower Field is dominated by hardy, drought-resistance grasses and wildflowers, and features a mix of species that ensures variation in blooms throughout the growing season. The simplicity of the straight walkway, running alongside the wildflowers interspersed between the original railroad tracks, allows visitors to appreciate the green axis of the High Line, as it moves through the city.

At West 29th Street, the High Line begins a long, gentle curve toward the Hudson River, signifying a transition to the West Side Rail Yards. The High Line's pathway echoes the curve, and a long bank of wooden benches sweep westward along the edge of the pathway. This is where Section 3 begins. Friends of the High Line and the City of New York are working to open the High Line at the rail yards as quickly as possible, with a goal of completing construction by the end of 2013, and with a full public opening in Spring, 2014.

Karen Tamir of James Corner Field Operations remarked, "It's been fantastic. It has been a great project to work on with very satisfying results."

The High Line Park is open daily from 7 am to 10 pm. It is now owned by the City of New York, and maintained and operated by Friends of the High Line. The two entities work together in partnership to preserve and maintain the structure as an elevated public park. For more information about Friends of the High Line, please visit:    


Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community

The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers. If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: 


Architect Online's Continuing Education Center

Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit: 



Architectural Record Continuing Education Center

Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums

The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture  

CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit:

The Green Meeting Industry Council

The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: 


The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.



Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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