Since my last post, about the new Race Street Pier in Philadelphia, there have been challenges on my Facebook link to the post as to (1) whether the High Line is Landscape Urbanism and (2) whether landscape architect James Corner was involved in designing the High Line and (3) whether James Corner is a Landscape Urbanist.
My response to Sandy's questions:
(1) whether the High Line is Landscape Urbanism
I see no reason why Landscape Urbanism (LU) should claim that the High Line is a manifestation of whatever teachings one can tease out of the LU writings. In fact LU does NOT make such a claim as it would be preposterous.
However, while making no explicit statement in any manner that the High Line is a manifestation of LU, Corner's chapter in the LU Reader suggests a silent connection between High Line and LU by simply placing a photo of the High Line as the front piece of his chapter. By implication -- and misleading, I think -- the photo and his chapter does link the two. But Corner -- rightly so -- offers no words in his chapter to explain why the High Line reflects his own thoughts (such as they may be) in his chapter. Nor have I been able to find any documentation in which anyone explains exactly how the High Line is a manifestation of LU thinking.
Wikipedia's entry offers no such explanation. And the reason it doesn't is because it can't. There is no connection between the High Line and LU thinking.
If there is such connection which passes the smile test, I am happy to modify my view.
2) whether landscape architect James Corner was involved in designing the High Line
It depends on what you mean by "design." Certainly, obviously, Corner was one of the designers to decide on the stairs, which pavement to use, which plantings, the lighting, the places to sit etc etc and so forth. With a few quibbles it's a very good job and Corner et al should to be commended.
But Corner had nothing to do with the initial impulse to convert the old rail line into a linear park or with the politics to implement it. Corner entered a design competition to do what I call the "tactics" and won.
But the "strategic" vision -- recognizing that the High Line RR should be a High Line Park -- came from two neighbors, two non-designers, two amateurs I might add, and then had the enormous political talent to persuade a host of NY luminaries and the gumption to follow-through.
The critically important "design" was strategic — by the neighborhood amateurs. The details were well-done but by no means any work of brilliance: just good competent professional work.
While Corner's own site shows lovely photos of the High Line, he does not (appropriately) offer any explanation that LU and the High Line are in any way connected nor that the Corner had a role in creating the strategic vision.
and (3) whether James Corner is a Landscape Urbanist.
Well he claims to be one so why disagree with his own assessment?