A Slightly Snarky Tour of the Most Unusual Buildings Along the High Line

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An article from Curbed once said that when taken as a whole, the buildings surrounding the High Line are what would happen if you invited too many historical figures to a dinner party. Their massive egos would get in the way and they’d all be shouting over each other. And that’s what it feels like walking down the High Line; each of these buildings, made by some of the most famous architects in the world, are screaming for your attention instead of creating a cohesive neighborhood. But this is also what makes them so much fun to look at. So which buildings along the High Line do you love and which ones do you love to hate?

The Standard Hotel

Despite it looking like an open book perched on 57-ft tall stilts, I don’t think the 338-room Standard Hotel is that unusual looking, at least not compared to its neighboring buildings along the High Line. The most unusual thing about it is that it’s where the infamous elevator incident between Solange, Jay-Z, and Beyonce occurred in 2014.

Lantern House

Lantern House was designed by Heatherwick Studios, headed by Thomas Heatherwick, the same person who gave us the Vessel and Little Island. He says that this building is “a modern interpretation of the bay window” and is supposed to be a “reinvention of the Chelsea warehouse architectural style.” But someone once called it the “pickle barrel building” and now I can’t unsee it.

459 West 18th Street and Chelsea Modern (447 West 18th Street)

These are two separate buildings, built by two separate design firms, completed one year apart. And they’re the prime examples of how the buildings near the High Line are focused on grabbing your attention rather than being cohesive parts of the neighborhood. Both of these building have actually won prestigious design awards. But to my layman’s eyes, I can’t really separate them to judge their merits. They’re like a mismatched outfit.

100 11th Avenue

The sliver of 100 11th Avenue visible from the High Line, its dark concrete back with its windows turned askew, is conservative compared to its flamboyant front. Designed by architect Jean Nouvel, this 21 floor building’s facade is made up of 1,650 windows that come in 32 different sizes, held in place by steel frames. Unrelated fact: 100 11th Avenue sits next to what used to be a woman’s prison within the city a mere decade ago.

Highline 519 (519 West 23rd Street) and High Line 23

I can’t be the only person who thought this was one weird building instead of two peculiar narrow ones. Highline 519 and High Line 23 are cohesively quirky, even though Highline 519 (the one on the left) was completed three years before its neighbor in 2006. The narrower of the pair, Highline 519 looks like it has giant muddy footprints on its face. High Line 23, however, has a “reverse-tapering shape” that’s covered in textured metal panels at the side, like a giant strip of aluminum foil.

520 West 28th Street

The statement this building makes is loud and clear: mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. This 11 story condo building was one of the last projects of architect Zaha Hadid before she passed away in 2016, and it gives off both cellular and futuristic vibes.

What do you think of the buildings along the High Line? Do you enjoy their quirks or do you think the architects should have focused more on building a cohesive neighborhood instead of trying to make a statement?

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One response to “A Slightly Snarky Tour of the Most Unusual Buildings Along the High Line”

  1. Olive La Mothe Avatar
    Olive La Mothe

    To be honest I have not given any thoughts to the named buildings but if I had to choose number one would be Lantern House. I Just love the windows. The second 520 West 28th. The others did not appeal to me.

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