PART 1: The History of the High Line
In 1847, the City of New York authorized street-level railroad tracks down Manhattan’s West Side. Due to the prevalence of accidents between freight trains and traffic, the West Side Improvement Project, which included the High Line, was started in 1929. The 13-mile project eliminated 105 street-level railroad crossings and cost over 150 million dollars, about 2 billion in current (2011) dollars. The High Line opened to trains in 1934 and originally ran from 34th Street to St. John's Park Terminal, at Spring Street. It was designed to go through the center of blocks, rather than over the avenue, to avoid the drawbacks of elevated subways. It connected directly to factories and warehouses, allowing trains to roll right inside buildings. Milk, meat, produce, and raw and manufactured goods could be transported and unloaded without disturbing traffic on the streets. The growth of interstate trucking in the 1950s led to a drop in rail traffic throughout the nation. In the 1960s, the southernmost section of the line was demolished. The last train ran in 1980 with three carloads of frozen turkeys. In the mid-1980s, a group of property owners with land under the line lobbied for the demolition of the entire structure. In 1999, the non-profit Friends of the High Line was formed, which advocated for the Line's preservation and reuse as public open space. Broadened community support for the High Line park grew and city funding was allocated in 2004. The southernmost section, from Gansevoort Street to 20th Street, opened as a city park on June 8, 2009. The middle section opened in June 2011, while the northernmost section's future remains uncertain, depending on a development project currently underway at the Hudson Yards.
PART 2: The Rooftop Additions, Part 1
On 26th Street just west of 10th Avenue, in the Chelsea Art District and in close proximity to the middle section of the High Line Park, Murdock Solon Architects, previously Murdock Young Architects, with Integrity Contracting, executed facade restoration, improvements and entry renovations to a group of buildings originally zoned for light manufacturing. Taking advantage of zoning allowances, Murdock Solon further planned for three rooftop additions to the group of buildings, which required review and approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Challenged by the recession and decreased demand for high valued and avant garde art, the owner of the buildings has delayed funding for the rooftop additions until 2011, starting with the rooftop addition over the 3-story building closest to the high line park.
The challenge we are facing with this rooftop addition is the need to completely remove the existing roofing material, which contains asbestos, and replace the existing timber joists with a new steel structure to support the new fourth floor addition. Since the lower floors are occupied by art gallery tenants, it is necessary to provide a continuously waterproof enclosure throughout the construction process. At the time of this posting, the plans and schedule outline a completion schedule of December 2011 for the rooftop addition enclosure and another two months for interior finishes and tenant occupancy.
For the purpose of coordinating the installation of the scaffolding and subsequent construction activities, I commissioned the creation of a 3D model using Google SketchUp. This model will help in coordinating with authorities related to the High Line Park as well as the tenants of adjacent properties and our own subcontractors.