Will Related Companies build a giant wall around Hudson Yards?

No More Walls!

Will Related Companies build a giant wall around Hudson Yards?

Hudson Yards could soon be literally walled off from the public. (Courtesy Related Oxford)

New Yorkers may have told themselves over the last year since Hudson Yards opened to the public that there could never be and will never be anything worse than the luxury mega-development—what some view as an architectural ode to capitalism.

But today, news broke that things could possibly get worse.

Michael Kimmelman revealed for the New York Times that the real estate giant Related Companies may build a 720-foot-long, 20-foot-high concrete wall around the western and southern borders of Hudson Yards, effectively creating a shadow over the northernmost portion of the High Line. This could potentially be part of the development’s highly-anticipated second, the phase aptly named Western Yard, which will include a slew of new towers by Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, and Robert A.M. Stern, as well a new public school and 12-acre park designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz

Rendering by Design Distill of Hudson Yards park
A verdant landscape will be built atop the Amtrak rail yard at Hudson Yards, but it may be separated from the High Line, Related says. (Courtesy Design Distill)

The landscape, or green deck as it’s referred to in renderings, was initially conceived as a covering to the platform that will bridge over the existing Amtrack rail yard on-site. Renderings of the project showed the park spilling over and onto 12th Avenue at West 30th Street. But according to the NYT, recently Related has been discussing the idea of adding a parking garage under the deck instead and elevating its edge from east to west with a curved wall.

Not only would a wall separate the development’s veritable “front yard” from the public, but it would cast a dark shadow and potentially dangerous presence onto the High Line. Kimmelman said it best:

Among other things, the wall would visually and perhaps otherwise obscure public access from the High Line and from the street into the yard, turning Related’s development into a man-made promontory, its occupants gazing down on the High Line’s visitors. It would also make the High Line seem the equivalent of an old city fire escape: a piece of aged infrastructure stuck to a wall.”

A spokesperson for Related told NYT the idea has only been part of preliminary discussions with neighborhood representatives and that “connectivity to surrounding neighborhoods and the High Line will be critically important” moving forward. 

The final decision has yet to be determined, but whatever Related does settle on will have to pass approval from both Community Board 4 and the City Planning Commission.

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