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On a recent March weekend while visiting New York City, I had the opportunity to walk the newest section of the High Line that opened last September. This half-mile long segment wraps around a large storage yard for commuter trains, between West 30th and West 34th Streets, with a nice view of the Hudson River along part of its length. The final 1/3 mile of this new phase is currently open as an interim walkway, to be completed once the neighboring Hudson Yards mixed-use development is built on a platform over the train yard.

One can now walk the entire 1.5-mile length of this former freight train trestle. It’s become a very popular place for both locals and visitors, with a steady stream of walkers even on the cool and windy day when I was there. The High Line ranks as one of my favorite urban parks, with a creative design that incorporates many references to its historic railway usage. I also enjoy the numerous interesting views of the city from 30 feet above the streets.

Be sure to check out my other two blog posts on this terrific linear park: Up on the High Line and The High Line, Section 2.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 1
The Grasslands Grove features a variety of “peel-up” furnishings, including benches, a picnic table, a see-saw rocker, and a chime feature for children. This signature style of site amenity can be seen along many parts of the High Line.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 2
Stacked seating borders the section that parallels West 30th Street, near a new building that is under construction to the north. The landscape near the High Line in this area will be changing over the next few years as tall buildings transform the low-lying rail yards site.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 3
The high line’s original rail tracks are exposed and now function as walkways in three places along the route, referencing the park’s former use. Aggregate bonded with an adhesive was installed between the ties, creating a very firm and level surface, accessible to wheelchairs.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 4
A row of benches flanks the 11th Avenue “Bridge” (to the left of the photo), a section of walkway that arches somewhat above the surrounding surfaces. The rail yards can be seen to the right.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 5
The Pershing Square Beams: A children’s play area featuring an exposed portion of the High Line’s original framework, and also including entertaining elements such as periscopes and a “gopher hole”. In the warmer months, perennial plantings sprout up in the spaces between some of the beams.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 6
The interim walkway includes the original tracks with self-seeded plants (as the High Line had appeared for many years after the trains stopped running in 1980). It becomes a lush green linear meadow during the warmer seasons. The walkway portion is surfaced with bonded aggregate, flush with the intersecting rail lines. The High Line curves to the right to run parallel with the Hudson River in the distance.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 7
Large stacked timbers serve as seating at this section of the interim walkway, somewhat reminiscent of oversized railroad ties.

 

High Line at the Rail Yards 8
The interim walkway slopes down to its terminus at West 34th Street.
 
Photos by Alice Webb

Aside from inducing a sense of calm, moving water tends to have a psychologically cooling effect, and it softens or masks surrounding noise. In the built landscape, it can be incorporated in many ways. Examples below illustrate some of that variety: a few of these features are meant to be interactive while others are not; several of them emphasize the water, which is more subtle or secondary in other cases; and some were designed to mimic nature whereas others are geometric in pattern or form. In all cases, the inclusion of water clearly adds to the appeal of these outdoor spaces.

 

Water feature 1
Playful jets in Place des Festivals, Montreal, Quebec

 

Water feature 2
Waterfall in the Split Basin, CityGarden, St. Louis, Missouri

 

Water feature 3
Rock wall resembling natural strata with water seeping out, Teardrop Park, New York City

 

Water feature 4
Fountain in the Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon

 

Water feature 5
Interactive fountain in Portland, Oregon, that alternates between jets and mist

 

Water feature 6
Sculpture with trickling water in the Rose Test Garden, Portland, Oregon

 

Water feature 7
Water feature in Portland, Oregon

 

Water feature 8
Waterfall and channel, Chinatown Park, Boston

 

Water feature 9
Mosaic fountain, Lincoln Road pedestrian mall, Miami Beach, Florida

 

Water feature 10
Planter with falling water in a courtyard, Miami Beach, Florida
 
All photos by Alice Webb, except the following:
Photo with bear sculptures/fountain in Portland, Oregon, by Nancy Novell

Miami Beach Art Deco

Since we’re in the depths of winter here in the northern U.S., I’m sharing some photos of art deco buildings in Miami Beach, in happy pastel colors to help melt away the cold weather blues! I’ve always been a fan of this style of historic architecture, and am happy to see these buildings so well-preserved. For more on this topic, check out my post on art deco in New York City.

 

Deco district (1024x687) (2)

 

Avalon (728x1024)

 

Barbizon (1024x768)

 

Berkeley Shore (1024x796)

 

Blue & purple bldg (1024x669)

 

Boat-like hotel (1024x588)

 

Breakwater (683x1024)

 

Cavalier (1024x724)

 

Colony (683x1024)

 

Deco detail (1024x572)

 

Delano (1024x727)

 

Loews (683x1024)

 

Marlin (683x1024)

 

McAlpin (794x1024)

 

Park Central 3 (1024x667)

 

Starlite (683x1024)

 

Waldorf Towers (890x1024)

 

Winter Haven 2 (683x1024)
 
Photos by Alice Webb

Mimicking Nature

I have been fascinated by the Fibonacci ratio, particularly since this pattern occurs so frequently in the natural world. Its proportions can be seen in the spacing of joints in the human fingers, the arrangement of seeds in a sunflower, and the spiral of a nautilus shell, for example. The numerical sequence begins with 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and continues indefinitely – each number is the sum of the two previous numbers (as illustrated in the first image below). It can be theorized that many of these patterns have evolved for efficiency: to maximize the number of leaves, seeds, etc., that are exposed to sunlight. This ratio is also very pleasing to the eye, and has therefore been used in various types of design.
 
Landscape architects sometimes incorporate Fibonacci proportions in their projects through a variety of means, such as with pavement design, scaling of spaces, and object/plant groupings. In many cases, these designs have focused on numbers and rectilinear shapes, although the spiral has also been used in artistic ways. A couple examples of the rectilinear usage of this ratio include Dan Kiley’s design for NationsBank Plaza in Tampa, Florida; and Lawrence Halprin’s scheme of structural spaces at Riverbank Park, in Flint, Michigan. An example of a spiral design in the landscape is shown below (last image).

 

1 - Fibonacci sequence
The Fibonacci ratio and associated spiral

 

2 - Ammi visnaga or majus
A beautiful example of Fibonacci spirals in False Queen Anne’s Lace

 

3 - peacock
The “eyes” of the peafowl’s feathers spiral in toward the bird in Fibonacci proportions.

 

4 - Aloe polyphylla Schönland ex Pillans
Aloe polyphylla – Photo credit: J. Brew

 

5 - weaving - fibonacci sequence
Fibonacci numbers were used in this woven scarf to create a transition from one color to the next.

 

6 - handrail - fibonacci spiral
Fibonacci spiral in a railing detail

 

7 - The Core - Eden Project
The Core education center, Eden Project, in Cornwall, U.K., was designed using Fibonacci proportions and spirals. Photo credit: Pauline Eccles

 

8 - Spiral Fountain, Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia
Spiral Fountain in Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia – Photo credit: Greg O’Beirne
 
All photos and images not credited otherwise were taken/created by Alice Webb.
Photos by others were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

Wickham Park in Manchester, Connecticut, includes a variety of themed gardens, the newest of which is a ¾-acre sensory garden. It’s a lush and peaceful place, with distinct spaces devoted to each of the senses. These types of gardens are very beneficial for people of all ages and abilities, gently stimulating the senses and serving as an educational tool.

This garden has a large variety of plantings, and is fully wheelchair-accessible. Pergolas and gateways separate each of the spaces – I particularly like those that are covered in vines. Although I might have designed this garden somewhat differently (perhaps with other types of seating and sculptures), I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit it.

 

A - sight garden
The sight garden contains colorful plants and a few with interesting shapes.

 

B - sound garden
The sound garden includes running water, wind chimes, and plants with leaves that tend to rustle in the wind.

 

C - scent garden
Plants with scented foliage and flowers are featured in the smell garden.

 

D - taste garden
A variety of edible plants and plant parts can be found in the taste garden, including vegetables, fruits, and nuts.

 

E - touch garden
Entry to the touch garden – this space features plants with various textures.

 

F - touch garden
Fine and coarse textures in the touch garden

Photos by Alice Webb

As a continuation of my original post on this subject, here are some unique outdoor seats that I’ve come across (both on location and online). It’s always a pleasure to see furnishings in the landscape that are custom-designed and out of the ordinary.

 

seat 1
Curvilinear series of stone/metal seats and bollards at the Federal Reserve Plaza in Boston – These also appear to serve as a security measure, keeping vehicles away from the building.

 

seat 2
Temporary installation in Boston (2013) – part of a series of art benches along the Fort Point Channel

 

seat 3
Wooden seat wall with attractive pattern in downtown Boston

 

seat 4
Tile seating in Rio de Los Angeles State Park, California. Photo credit: Laurie Avocado

 

seat 5
Double-sided bench designed by architect Zaha Hadid, located in the Dallas Museum of Art’s sculpture garden. Photo credit: Alfred Essa

 

seat 6
“Tourist Trap” – temporary seat in Belfast, Maine, 2014

 

seat 7
“The Greeter” – temporary seating in Belfast, Maine, 2014

 

seat 8
“Stumped” – temporary seating in Belfast, Maine, 2014
 
All photos not credited otherwise were taken by Alice Webb.
Photos by others were obtained from Wikimedia Commons.

In the late 1980s, the beachfront of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was vastly transformed when the 2-mile-long Wave Wall and Promenade were built, in addition to the redesign of coastal Route A1A to include planted medians and bike lanes. This streetscape improvement project was designed by EDSA, a Florida-based landscape architecture firm. I visited the beach in April, and enjoyed my walks along this promenade. I was impressed not only by the design, but also by how well it has held up over the decades.

 

Ft. Lauderdale promenade 1

 

Ft. Lauderdale promenade 2

 

Ft. Lauderdale promenade 3

 

Ft. Lauderdale promenade 4
 
Photos by Alice Webb

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