Friends of the High Line high line the spur

NYC Makers: Robert Hammond, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the High Line

Photograph by Liz Ligon, courtesy of Friends of the High Line

Twenty years ago when plans have been announced to demolish the High Line, an abandoned elevated monitor alongside 10th Avenue inbuilt the 1930s for freight trains to deliver food goods to Lower Manhattan, like most people, Robert Hammond assumed another person was doing one thing to stop it. After attending a group board assembly on the matter, he discovered that his assumption was flawed. At that meeting he met Joshua David and together they took up the cost to save lots of the High Line. The pair based Friends of the High Line, a non-profit conservancy, in 1999. After ten years of rallying help, preventing to save lots of the historic website and making a transformative plan to show the former railroad tracks into an elevated public park, the first part opened in 2009.

This yr, Friends of the High Line celebrated its twentieth yr in operation and reached a momentous accomplishment as the last part of the park to include unique rail tracks, the Spur, opened this summer time. Untapped Cities sat down with Friends of the High Line co-founder and Executive Director Robert Hammond to look back at the previous 20 years, the current state, and future of the High Line in addition to New York Metropolis at giant, and the growing subject of industrial re-use in America.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: What’s your favourite “untapped “spot in New York Metropolis?

Robert Hammond: Once I first moved to New York I spent quite a bit of time on the Christopher Road Pier earlier than they redeveloped it, so I nonetheless have a gentle spot for that area and what the pier was like. It was simply this literally crumbling concrete piece and there was type of a chainlink fence that folks had reduce open and you possibly can go proper out to the finish. I mean literally, the concrete was falling apart. You can get down near the water and individuals can be sunbathing and bare and just hanging out. It felt identical to, I don’t know, it was a good way of being. It was weird as a result of it felt like being in nature, which was bizarre as a result of it’s this concrete thing, however to me that’s one of my favourite things about New York. It’s that it makes you experience nature in several ways and respect it in several ways. I feel that’s one of the issues about the High Line, it’s not an escape from the city. You possibly can see, odor and hear all of the metropolis however you’re also around nature. I feel that’s that experience I had there. It was close to the water, it was all this open area, the city was in back of you, New Jersey was in entrance of you, you have been sitting on a crumbing concrete pier, nevertheless it felt like one way or the other you had this connection to nature.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: That’s a very good one. What locations are on your New York Metropolis Bucket record?

Robert Hammond: Oh so many! The Statue of Liberty, really embarrassing.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: That’s one of mine too! There’s a brand new museum there now.

Robert Hammond: Sure, I’d like to see that because Diane von Furstenberg helped build it and she’s been so necessary to us. I have by no means been to the World Trade Middle memorial. I feel I’ve a psychological barrier to it. I lived downtown and I watched the towers fall so I feel I’ve some sort of block. I’ve all the time beloved that design and I’ve pushed by it, so I’d wish to go there and to the memorial. The new park in Queens, Hunters Level, I undoubtedly need to see that. I’ve heard superb things about it. I’d love to go on Newton Creek. Not in New York Metropolis however I’ve all the time needed to go kayaking in New Jersey the place it’s all reeds, close to the Hackensack River.

One of my favorite bucket record things that I did was taking place to the third water tunnel before it was finished. They have been digging a gap for it proper at the nook of 10th Avenue and 30th Road so I traded a High Line tour for a tour to go down there. My favorite factor was they stated, before we went down there, “You’re welcome to take pictures but just keep in mind it’s an all male crew and there’s no toilet facilities, so watch what you’re photographing.” However it was superb. That was cool.

Hunters Level Park in Queens Designed by SWA/Balsley and Weiss/Manfredi

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: What makes New York Metropolis nice to you?

Robert Hammond: I assume the individuals. You’ll be able to meet so many fascinating individuals and it’s just infinite. I speak to individuals who depart New York and they say you get to know the individuals in your city and that’s nice because it’s small, however here you’re simply continually assembly fascinating individuals. I feel typically elsewhere individuals are outlined by their jobs and, individuals in New York, they’ve a job and then they’ve a passion. Typically their job is their passion however even when they’ve passion for his or her job they have four other passions! So I all the time like asking individuals as an alternative of, “What do you do?, What are you excited about?” And other people in New York have like five things they’re enthusiastic about. New Yorkers have rather a lot of ardour.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: It’s so true, simply doing one other one of these interviews I was talking to the master planner of Battery Park Metropolis and in addition to being this nice urban planner for his complete profession he’s also a farmer, and a composer/musician and a Hudson River Faculty educated painter.

On the flip aspect of that final query, what would you modify about New York City?

Robert Hammond: I feel what most individuals need the city to be like is what it was like of their twenties, that’s what individuals look again on. I assume back to the issues I really like about New York that have been there once I was in my twenties, however individuals have been saying that for many years.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: Persevering with with wanting back, what tasks from the previous are you most proud of?

Robert Hammond: We constructed a roller skating rink beneath the High Line once we opened section two at 30th and 10th and it was actually arduous. It was really exhausting to construct a public curler skating rink in a parking zone for two months, seems. But I beloved that. Really proud of the Mile Lengthy Opera we did final yr.

The Mile Lengthy Opera, Photograph by Liz Ligon

I was concerned in the actually early levels of the Tribute in Mild. These two architects that lived near me obtained in touch with me like the day after and had the concept of putting an entire bunch of beacons, initially considered put in the water at World Trade Middle harbor however we shortly realized it might make the mild move. I put them in touch with Anne Pasternak at Artistic Time and with the Municipal Arts Society and ultimately they partnered with another artists and it turned the World Trade Middle Tribute in Mild. I played a very small position however I’m actually proud of that because it’s one of my favorite annual issues in New York that has which means to me.

Five years ago I turned a meditation instructor. I left my job at the High Line and moved to India for 3 months. I train meditation once a month. So I’m still actually proud of that. It’s like my different favorite job. I feel like I’m really blessed to have two nice jobs which might be really fascinating and very totally different.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: You train meditation courses in the metropolis?

Robert Hammond: Yep, as soon as a month I do a 4 day class.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: Additionally the High Line simply opened the Spur this summer time, how has that been going?

Robert Hammond: Yea and that was actually significant because it was the almost certainly to be demolished, even after we had saved part one and opened section one and have been on the brink of open part two, that half was nonetheless slated for demolition. We did so much of totally different designs for it that didn’t fairly work, so I’m really proud of what we opened. I really like the artwork piece, it’s one of my favorite we’ve ever achieved. My favourite view of it is from the road, not from the High Line. Whenever you’re arising you see the High Line over the road and then Brick Home, the Simone Leigh sculpture over it. I’m actually proud and enthusiastic about it.

Untapped Cities Insiders in entrance of Simone Leigh’s Brick House on the Spur

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: Our Insiders beloved getting a sneak peek of the Spur on the early access excursions with you and Adam Ganser, the Vice President of Planning and Design. What tasks are you engaged on right now?

Robert Hammond: I’m on the board of Pier 55 which you’ll be able to see right right here. (Right here we each look proper outdoors the window of Robert’s workplace at the High Line headquarters on Washington Road to see proper out to the water and development of Pier 55). I was an enormous skeptic once I first heard Barry Diller start speaking about it. I didn’t assume it was an excellent concept. I used to be simply very skeptical but, now I’m very enthusiastic about it. I feel it’s going to be very special. Right here at the High Line we actually have one other section of the park that’s going to be at road degree between 17th and 18th road that we’re going to start development on quickly. We now have the High Line Network which is a challenge we began 4 years in the past which is a community of different industrial reuse tasks all over the nation. We are doing an enormous gathering of fifty totally different tasks from throughout the nation to satisfy collectively at the Ford Basis in October. I’m actually excited about that. It’s type of like a coming out occasion for this new variety of subject that’s emerging. And it’s not about how you can find out how we do it, but how can we study from one another. It’s not like the High Line is the solution to do it.

Pier-55-Diller Scofidio Renfro-Hudson River Park-West Side Highway-NYCImage by way of Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio. Renderings by Luxigon.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: What are some of the other tasks in the network?

Robert Hammond: There are large tasks like the LA River and the Beltline in Atlanta, to other tasks like the 606 in Chicago, the Bentway in Toronto and some tasks underneath development like the Underneath Line in Miami, Waller Creek in Austin. They are all totally different sorts of typologies. Klyde Warren Park which is on prime of the freeway, they constructed a park on prime of a freeway in Dallas, there’s the Buffalo Bayou. One other one beneath development is the Seattle Waterfront.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: Tons of thrilling tasks! What different tasks in New York Metropolis particularly are exciting to you proper now?

Robert Hammond: Properly, Pier 55. Freshkills I feel is admittedly fascinating and individuals don’t understand how massive that park is. I really like the history of it. Once more it’s this bizarre variety of man-made nature. It’s the largest level on the Japanese Seaboard and it’s man-made and it’s made of trash and there’s all this science behind it and underneath it of how it works. I find that fascinating. What else…I’m really considering how New York responds to the rising sea levels and what’s occurring in downtown New York, how they’re desirous about dealing with the coast line. It’s one thing I feel that’s going to occur not simply in New York Metropolis but throughout the world. How can we reply to rising sea levels not solely to cope with local weather change but in addition the want for public open area? How can this new infrastructure do double, triple, quadruple obligation. I’ve been actually impressed by the guide by Eric Klinenberg referred to as Palaces for the Individuals. It’s about social infrastructure and how, we expect of the built infrastructure as so essential, however what about social infrastructure? To me what’s really fascinating is how can they do double obligation. Can it’s constructed as environmental infrastructure but in addition function social infrastructure?

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: Going back to your bucket listing locations, I feel like Hunters Level South Park is an effective instance of that. We visited the studios of SWA/Balsley, the agency that designed it, and discovered about how the design fosters social interaction and then additionally all of the environmental options they took into consideration like bringing again marshland and building flood safety. It was very fascinating.

What recommendation would you give to individuals starting their careers at the moment?

Robert Hammond: It’s work for somebody you respect and need to be like, because you grow to be the boss you’ve in your twenties, I feel, whether or not you want them or not, or you need to, that’s the way you study to manage. I feel individuals now are going to have so many various careers in so many various fields. To me the subject or the job is much less necessary than who you’re working for. It’s not a few particular talent associated to at least one business, it’s extra about how do you handle and how do you study to work? You study that from the individuals you work for and with, so to me that’s the most necessary selection.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: What ebook are you reading proper now?

Robert Hammond: Oh so many books. The Montessori Toddler, as a result of I have a yr and a half yr previous and How Do Toddlers Thrive?, another youngsters e-book. I all the time have an extended listing. I’m studying a ebook about Russian pre-revolutionary historical past as a result of I really like Russian historical past. I’m studying a guide about OKRs, Objects and Key Outcomes. A ebook by David Hawkins about consciousness, Energy Versus Pressure. I really like his books. His books I take heed to on Audible. I’ve been listening to so much of podcasts. I’m type of obsessive about Kara Swisher. I really like Recode Decode and Pivot. I’m listening to some previous There Goes the Neighborhood episodes about gentrification. I’m listening to the Chernobyl podcast about the Chernobyl collection.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: That’s an enormous thing now. Tourism is skyrocketing over there.

Robert Hammond: Yea! I lived in the Soviet Union for three months in 1987, the yr afterwards, once I was in High Faculty.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: Wow, that’s an fascinating reality which leads into the next question, inform us one shocking thing about you!

Robert Hammond: That I train meditation, that’s something type of totally different that rather a lot of individuals don’t know. I used to be a painter, and I may be again. I taught myself to paint in my mid-twenties and for awhile that was my different passion in addition to the High Line. I have a portray in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park subsequent to the elevator that they bought. In a 3rd of the rooms I’ve work in there. As the High Line type took off I turned type of less interested but I hope sometime to return to it.

Nicole Saraniero, Untapped Cities: These are all of the questions I have, thank you a lot for sitting down with us!

Next, take a look at The Prime 10 Secrets Of The High Line in NYC

Friends of the High Line, high line, NYC Makers, the spur