New York City’s The High Line has a new development to its tracks that has created numerous exciting public spaces that are all connected by the above ground pedestrian paths.
FROM THE ARCHITECTS. The High Line – Moynihan Connector—led by Empire State Development, Brookfield Properties, and Friends of the High Line—is part of a long-standing vision to create safer, more enjoyable pedestrian access, connect people to transit, and seamlessly link public open spaces and other community assets in the neighborhood.
As the latest chapter in the decade-long evolution of Midtown West in New York City, including the redevelopment of Penn Station, the adaptive reuse of the Farley Building into Moynihan Train Hall with offices above, and the creation of Manhattan West and Hudson Yards, the neighborhood has emerged as a new mixed-use destination knit together by a series of civic spaces that will now be connected to the High Line—one of the most important public spaces and pedestrian paths in New York City.
Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and James Corner Field Operations, the Connector is composed of two bridges running above Dyer Avenue and West 30th Street. The Connector forms the final link in a chain of pedestrian pathways from Penn Station to Hudson Yards and the High Line to the West Village. The seamless, fully accessible Connector takes the form of an elevated, 600-foot linear park that creates an episodic urban journey from the contemporary spaces of Midtown West to the verdant gardens and historic structure of the High Line.
Upon exiting Moynihan Train Hall, visitors and commuters cross Ninth Avenue and enter Brookfield Properties’ Manhattan West and its 2.6-acre public plaza, which then leads to the Timber Bridge, a dramatic truss structure that runs the length of Dyer Avenue. They then turn 90 degrees to enter the tree-lined Woodland Bridge along 30th Street, which leads directly to the High Line Spur.
The 260-foot-long Timber Bridge, a glulam Warren truss made from sustainably sourced wood, offers an inviting space protected from the traffic emerging from the Lincoln Tunnel. This structural solution requires minimal connections to the ground, allowing the existing roads to remain undisturbed and maximizing the use of renewable materials. The Woodland Bridge, a 340-foot-long diagonal path lined with trees, introduces the immersive landscape of the High Line. Deep and continuous soil beds built into the structure support large trees characteristic of an Eastern Deciduous Forest that will grow into a lush landscape for birds and native pollinators, provide shade, and shield pedestrians from the traffic below. This container is supported on architecturally exposed weathered columns and angled bracket arms that vary dynamically to reflect the different soil depths along the diagonal pathway.
The two bridges have their own architectural and structural expression and human experience that respond to the site and context and are aesthetically united by a warm material palette of weathered steel decking and bronze handrails, which guide pedestrians between the structures. The planting on the Woodland Bridge shifts from high too low to create a varied experience as visitors move from east to west and west to east. The dynamic landscape allows pedestrians to see the timber structure rise over the diagonal pathway and creates a visual link to the trees from Magnolia Court in Manhattan West Plaza. This solution establishes a distinctive sense of place and guides pedestrians to their destinations on both sides of the Connector.
The Connector is the fourth major SOM project in the neighborhood’s evolution. Between the design of Moynihan Train Hall, the restoration of the Farley building, its transformation to tech office space, and the 1000-foot-tall mixed-use 35 Hudson Yards, and both the design and master plan for the 7-million-square-foot, mixed-use Manhattan West, SOM has played an essential role in reimagining a former industrial area into a vibrant destination.
Similarly, design partner James Corner Field Operations continues its legacy of transformative public realm projects in the area, including the design of the High Line, the public spaces at Manhattan West, and Hudson River Park’s Gansevoort Peninsula. The creative design collaboration between SOM and Field Operations–under the leadership of Empire State Development, Brookfield Properties, and Friends of the High Line–led to the Connector’s strikingly original and unique character.
Architects | James Corner Field Operations, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Photography | Lucas Blair Simpson © SOM, Andrew Frasz/courtesy of the High Line
Lighting Consultant | Tillotson Design Associates
Structural Engineering | Thornton Tomasetti
Civil Engineering | WSP Norge, WSP
MEP Engineering | WSP Norge, WSP
Traffic Engineering | Buro Happold
Main Contractor | Turner Construction
Client | Empire State Development, Brookfield Properties, Friends of the High Line
Design | Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and James Corner Field Operations
Design Structural Engineer | Skidmore, Owings & Merrill