Small-scale projects and low-rise buildings are the newest and most exciting projects in New York City today, according to Jonathan Glancey.
"Yet during the few days I spent in New York last week, many of the most talked-about architectural and urban planning projects were low-rise and even low-key. Partly that's down to the opening earlier this month of the second phase of the High Line Park, a green walkway along the old elevated freight railroad running through the West Side's former meatpacking district, and designed by James Corner Field Operations with local architects Diller Scofidio and Renfro, and Dutch planting designer, Piet Oudolf.
But Jayne Merkel, the distinguished New York historian, told me when we met that she thought, if anything, the High Line had been overhyped: "It's fun to walk along as a tourist and occasionally to wander," she said, "but it's much less significant than other places that have been created or are being created for people to relax in the middle of the city." Such as? She points to the reclamation of several lanes of traffic for pedestrian use from about 47th Street all the way down to 14th Street, and their embellishing with tables and chairs provided by the city. Hardly the wildest of ideas, but effective nonetheless. 'As a Brit,' she continued, 'you may not be aware just how radical this ... for most people the only public space is a bench in a privately owned shopping mall.'"