Faculty member Charles Renfro, architect behind New York's High Line, discusses project for Tel Aviv on Haaretz
November 17, 2016
The ceremony to mark the start of construction on the High Line – an elevated park built on part of an abandoned railroad line in Manhattan’s Lower West Side – about a decade ago was attended by a small number of architects, city officials and local cultural figures. One of the architects was Charles Renfro. Smartly dressed servers circulated among the guests, passing glasses of champagne from elegant trays. The atmosphere was celebratory, but Renfro couldn’t help but notice that the train tracks were still full of broken glass, cigarette butts and used condoms. He could smell urine everywhere, “and in the middle of it all we drank fancy champagne.” He looked at the guests and the champagne, and at the rough High Line, and thought that the High Line would only be a success if “we can preserve the wildness, the ruggedness, the authenticity of the rail line.”
Seven years after the High Line opened, the used condoms are gone and the park no longer smells of urine. But thanks to gentle, well-considered design, Renfro, Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio – the partners in Diller Scofidio + Renfro – undoubtedly managed to preserve something of the toughness of the railway line and to turn the park into a major attraction.