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Archive for the ‘Site Furniture’ Category

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

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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.

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During my recent travels, I have seen a number of notable walkways along waterfronts, beside city streets, and through urban and suburban parks. Well-designed pedestrian ways have ample width for movement and social interaction, and include visually-unifying elements throughout, such as a continuous paving pattern and repeated furnishings and plantings. These promenades should also be designed to correspond with the character of their surroundings, as well as provide a pleasant and safe experience for pedestrians.

 

Transit shelter, Portland OR
The transit mall in downtown Portland, Oregon, has wide sidewalks with decorative pavement, beside streets that have traffic lanes reserved for light rail and buses. The walkways include these attractive clear transit shelters.

 

Streetside boardwalk, Portland OR
A boardwalk runs along NW 10th Avenue in Portland, Oregon for 4 blocks between two parks. It’s unusual to see a wooden walkway along an urban street. This section, which is adjacent to Jameson Square, is wide enough for a double row of trees – a pleasant place to take a stroll.

 

Streetscape, South Boston MA
Eye-catching pavement pattern along a portion of Northern Avenue, adjacent to the Fan Pier Public Green in South Boston, Massachusetts

 

Fayetteville St, Raleigh NC
Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, North Carolina, was turned into a pedestrian mall in the 1970s, but the street was added back in 2006 along with these wide sidewalks with decorative planters, benches, lights, and other features. This corridor’s revitalization is reported to be a success in terms of bringing in more business.

 

Church Street Marketplace, Burlington VT
The Church Street Marketplace, in Burlington, Vermont, has been in place since 1981, and is one of the few continuously successful pedestrian malls in the U.S. This lively promenade is full of retail stores and restaurants with outdoor seating areas.

 

Park in Clayton MO
This park in Clayton, Missouri, includes a linear lawn space extending between two streets, bordered by two walkways. Seating areas and plantings line the edges of the promenade. Not many people were outside on this cold day in late October.

 

Streetscape, Clayton MO
A simple but attractive pavement design along a street in Clayton, Missouri

 

Walnut Street Park, Cary NC
This beautifully-patterned brick walkway winds its way through Walnut Street Park in Cary, North Carolina.

 

Boardwalk & Promenade, Myrtle Beach SC
This curvilinear promenade runs along part of the ocean in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is surfaced with concrete in contrasting colors and textures.

 

Waterfront Park, Burlington VT
Waterfront Park in Burlington, Vermont, is bounded by a boardwalk which includes nautical-style lighting, granite bollards, and swinging benches.

 

Central Park - The Mall, New York City
The Mall in Central Park, New York City, is an example of a historic promenade with lovely old trees.

 

Photos by Alice Webb

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Outdoor benches need not be ordinary – I’m often searching for one-of-a-kind seats, which seem to be a rarity among a profusion of manufactured site furnishings. Below are a few examples of unique seating opportunities that I’ve encountered on my treks through parks, gardens, and along urban streets.

 


“Talk tube” benches flank the entrance to Marla Dorrel Park, Cary, NC. These were created by an artist.

 


One of many “peel-up” benches on the High Line in New York City

 


A protruding slab of stone in this wall serves nicely as a bench. It’s located at Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA.

 


Here is a series of curved benches at West Podium Park in Boston. Note that the width of each bench narrows from one end to the other.

 


Artist-created fish bench in Eastport Park, Boston

 


Clever melding of bench with building at South Boston Maritime Park

 

The following photos are of semi-permanent benches and chairs in downtown Belfast, Maine. Each was designed and built by an artist or craftsperson as part of the town’s “Please be Seated” project. They are bolted to the pavement and kept in place for part of one year (June through October). These are some of the 2012 installations.

 


“Isn’t it Grand” bench

 


“Birch Perch” bench

 


“Buoy-oh-Buoy” bench

 


“Elemental Earth” bench

 


“Adirondack Red Magnum” chair (made from slats of a wine barrel)

 


“Catch a Wave” bench

 


“The Nest” seat

 

Photos by Alice Webb

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