Hutopian hours – Al festival l’ideatore della High Line di New York

Non è stato facile, ma ci siamo riusciti. Robert Hammond —co-founder di Friends of the High Line e primo promotore del progetto di riqualificazione più conosciuto al mondo— ci racconterà la storia di questo incredibile intervento che ha inciso profondamente sull’immagine della città.

Un’occasione unica, per tutti noi, per continuare a riflettere sul potenziale dei tanti luoghi abbandonati disseminati nelle nostre città. Un talk imperdibile.

Qui sotto una breve intervista con Robert Hammond, in attesa di vederlo al festival.
When the idea for the High Line came about, what was your suggestion? What memories do you have of the time you stepped onto the already decommissioned tracks and imagined turning it into a linear park?

I lived in the neighborhood so I had always seen it when walking around, but I didn’t think it was all connected. I really didn’t think that much about it until I read an article in The New York Times in the summer of ‘99 that said it was threatened with demolition, and it included a map. The article showed that it was a mile and a half long running through the Meatpacking District and Chelsea, all the way up to Hell’s Kitchen near the Javits Convention Center. That’s when I first realized the whole extent of it.

Quickly I found no one was doing anything for the High Line and that it was actually going to be demolished. I heard the proposed demolition was on the agenda for a community board meeting in my neighborhood so I went to my first community board meeting ever and sat next to Joshua David —my project partner— who I didn’t know at the time. By the end of the meeting we realized everyone in the room was in favor of demolition except for us. So we exchanged business cards and we said, “Well why don’t we start something together?

From the time you had the idea, to when the City of NYC came on board, did you always have faith or did you lose hope of achieving what is now the High line sometime?

Our first task was to ensure that it would not be demolished. We weren’t architects or designers or city planners, so we had no background or expertise in any of this. From the beginning we never had an actual vision of what it should become other than a public space. We always said, “The city should ultimately decide what it becomes”. We did dozens of community input sessions, and I think there were a lot of people in New York that felt like they had a lot of say in what it became. The general consensus –again, we liked it, but it wasn’t ours – was, “Let’s try to preserve that feeling of a lost landscape”, and try to bring back some of the wild nature that was up there. So that really came out of community input sessions.