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Walking the High Line 06.22.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB.
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An old railroad becomes a parkBread and Buttress was in upstate New York this past weekend to celebrate the nuptials of our college roommate.  Congrats to the Leaders!  We also had the good fortune of being able to spend a day in New York City which we filled with, you guessed it, pastries and architecture.

The focal point of this visit was the brand new High Line Park in Chelsea.  A long, linear park, its foundation is an old elevated rail line that runs for eight blocks, three stories above the pavement.  Gardens and walkways weave their way along the steel structure, mingling with the occassional railroad track or switch.  Paths are created with long and tapering precast concrete blocks, emphasizing the linear nature of the park.  Stopping points are plentiful (lounge chairs!) and allow for great views of the Hudson between Chelsea’s old brick warehouses.

The place was packed with people at 3pm on a Friday.  Most were doing as we were, satisfying their curiosity.  Though midst the gawkers, others were enjoying meals, romantically strolling, or getting exercise.  This place is getting some use!  Our plus one even remarked that it would be a great place for a wedding reception.

All in all, a successful project that does what a city park should, provide some nature and relaxation for its inhabitants while maintaining a connection to the urban fabric.  Chelsea is a great backdrop for the High Line, the old factories mixed with new eyepopping projects show the evolving dialog architects are having with the city.  (side note: some architects aren’t listening too well, while others have been more successful.)  The design team of the High Line gets it.  Props to DS+R et al.

Freshly planted garden should look nice in a few yearsDangerous curves ahead

Frank Gehry, look what you've done!Benches emerge from the pavers, slick.

Chelsea streetscapeTakeout from Donuts Lunchonette, Brooklyn.

Sketching Golden Gardens 05.01.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Recipes.
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View in the North treesSeattle has a number of beautiful and unique parks.  I’m sure all of you have your favorites.  At the top of my list is Ballard’s Golden Gardens.  I was there on a recent Saturday reflecting on why the place is such a draw.

On any given sunny day, the park will fill with folks enjoying the saltwater beaches and picnic sites.  It’s a place for all ages and all activities.  Kiteboarding, weddings, frisbee, drum circles, sandcastles, bench sitting, cruising, dog parking, making out.  My best friend was married in its bath house and recently I’ve been attending underground culinary dinners in its more quiet corners.

I can’t say what draws other to the park, but for the architect in me it has always been one thing, rhythm.  The park possesses these distinct, rhythmic layers along it’s linear site.  Some are placed by man: the masts at Shilshole Marina, the bonfire spots, and the trees.  Others are natural: the profile of the Olympic Mountains, the waves, the trees.  Others (and this is my favorite) are always moving: people, trains, boats, clouds, tides.

Those sunny days are sensory overloads.  Those sunny days call me to the park.  Usually I find myself sketching trying to express the dynamic rhythms of the place.  Usually I fail.  I think someday I’ll get there because the park, always changing, stays interesting from one sunny season to the next.

How do you draw beach sand?  I'm frusterated.View looking towards the Olympics

For full res images please visit BnB’s Sketchbook.