Diller Scofidio + Renfro is an interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, the visual arts and the performing arts. DS+R’s projects include the redesign of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the High Line, the Institute of Contemporary Art on Boston’s waterfront, the Broad Art Museum in downtown Los Angeles, the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, the Museum of Image & Sound in Rio de Janeiro and Blur, built on Lake Neuchâtel for the 2002 Swiss Expo. Recent installation projects include “Open House” (in collaboration with Droog) and “How Wine Became Modern” for SFMOMA. In 2003, the Whitney Museum of American Art held a retrospective of the studio’s work, recognizing the firm’s unorthodox practice. In 2010, DS+R’s partners were included in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and Fast Company named DS+R the most innovative design practice in the profession and among the 50 most innovative companies in the world.
The High Line is a new 1.5-mile long public park built on an abandoned elevated railroad stretching from the Meatpacking District to the Hudson Rail Yards in Manhattan. Inspired by the melancholic, unruly beauty of this postindustrial ruin, where nature has reclaimed a once vital piece of urban infrastructure, the new park interprets its inheritance. It translates the biodiversity that took root after it fell into ruin in a string of site-specific urban microclimates along the stretch of railway that include sunny, shady, wet, dry, windy and sheltered spaces. Through a strategy of agri-tecture—part agriculture, part architecture—the High Line surface is digitized into discrete units of paving and planting which are assembled along the 1.5 miles into a variety of gradients from 100% paving to 100% soft, richly vegetated biotopes. The paving system consists of individual pre-cast concrete planks with open joints to encourage emergent growth like wild grass through cracks in the sidewalk. The long paving units have tapered ends that comb into planting beds creating a textured, “pathless” landscape where the public can meander in unscripted ways. The park accommodates the wild, the cultivated, the intimate and the social. Access points are durational experiences designed to prolong the transition from the frenetic pace of city streets to the slow otherworldly landscape above. Designed in collaboration with James Corner Field Operations and Piet Oudolf, Phase I of the High Line was completed in 2009 and Phase II opened in 2011. Phase III is currently in design.
All photography by Iwan Baan.