Featured Project: High Line Park
New York City has added another must-see destination to its list of attractions, for residents and tourists alike.
The High Line, located on Manhattan's West Side, is an elevated park that has won worldwide acclaim since its opening in 2009, and has become a singular example of how an abandoned piece of infrastructure can be re-imagined as a unique, urban recreational space. The park was created on what was formerly the High Line Railway, which was built in the 1930's, ceased operation in the 1970s, and sat vacant and decaying for over three decades.
Two New York City agencies, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), along with "The Friends of the High Line", a community organization that strongly supported the creation of the park, collaborated on the project. LiRo acted as the Resident Engineer, and Owner's Representative, on the project, overseeing day-to-day operations for its two clients, to ensure that design and construction goals were met, and provided significant phasing and logistics coordination for the aggressive construction schedule, as multiple construction contracts were let. LiRo's staff also carefully reviewed all relevant documents, to ensure plans were viable in the field.
Transforming the High Line into a beautifully landscaped, relaxing park oasis that offers numerous areas for visitors to stop and admire scenery, or just to sit and take a break, was no easy task, but LiRo's professionals proved equal to the challenge.
The project site cannot be compared to any other, as it rises 20 feet into the air, and spans over 20 blocks, of which only one was owned by the City, with the rest privately owned. Because of this, extensive coordination with various businesses, as well as multiple building projects, below, above and around the site, was required. These conditions made typical construction activities, such as delivering the tens of thousands of cubic yards of soil and concrete, into a scheduling and coordination project onto itself.
The entire elevated rail structure required rehabilitation, so it could serve as the foundation for the new, elevated park. LiRo monitored lead paint removal, to ensure compliance with environmental regulations, and the repainting of the existing steel structure, as well as extensive amounts of steel and concrete repairs. Since the rail structure spanned through active neighborhoods, environmental monitoring and compliance tasks were very important aspects of this project, particularly when the work occurred in close proximity to an elementary school, art galleries, offices, restaurants, and other businesses.
The High Line Park's promenade is filled with a plethora of different plant species from around the globe, as well as custom park furniture, fencing, and lighting. This aspect of the Park's design and construction required meticulous inspection, and close coordination, to meet construction specifications and sequencing.
This transformation project presented other challenges. The painting of the rail structure was atypical of infrastructure projects, due to the public's proximity to the rails and columns, as they enter and walk along the High Line's promenade, so the paint job's tidiness and aesthetic quality were important, and were carefully reviewed. Another example was the design of the mesh rail. The LiRo team worked closely with the mesh rail designer, to solve constructability issues in the field, while not compromising the designer's intent.
Retrofitting the existing structure to accept the new design elements was also a critical element of the project's success. LiRo worked closely with the Design Team to identify potential installation issues. This was essential for merging the new elements into the High Line, which can be seen at the park's access points, including stairs and elevators. But nothing exemplifies LiRo's attention to detail better than its work in Section 2, where the existing track rails were reinstalled in their original location, integrated into the park's signature precast plank walkway.
LiRo's focus on customer service was a key ingredient in the construction of one of the High Line's most popular spaces: the Tenth Avenue Square. Toward the end of Section I's construction, the Friends of the High Line wanted to take advantage of the unique crossing of the High Line over Tenth Avenue at 18th Street. LiRo personnel worked closely with the owners, to devise a negotiating strategy on the new scope of work, and provided value engineering services to keep costs low. LiRo's construction management experience and expertise helped keep the Tenth Avenue Square project within the owner's budget, while minimizing the impact on the overall schedule.
Equally important to the park's viability are elements that are largely invisible to the public, such as its complex MEP system. Nearly a mile of LED lighting was installed, as well as miles and miles of cable, conduit and pipes, which support the High Line's elevators, irrigation, drainage, electrical, and security systems, as well as its one- of- a-kind water feature.
The Friends of the High Line, as well as the New York City agencies involved in the project, envisioned the High Line Park as a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan's West Side and "Meat-Packing District", which itself has been transformed into an exciting, live, work and play community. LiRo's proactive work with its NYC agency clients, and the Friends of the High Line, and its attention to detail at all phases of the construction process, ensured that this one-of-a-kind rehabilitation project was completed cost effectively, and at the highest level of quality.
Resident/ Construction Engineering & Inspection
ENR New York, April 8, 2013
"In This West Side Story, Construction is Elevating" describes phase 3 of the High Line park.