Thursday, January 26, 2012

The "High Line" seems to be replicating like bunnies across the globe!
A High Line for London? 
Not Until After the Queen's Big Boat Party

Thames River Park
By Janelle Zara
Construction of the Gensler-designed London River Park on the Thames, originally expected to debut in time for the 2012 Olympics, has been delayed until after the Queen's 60th anniversary on June 3  due to questions of safety, BBC News reports.
Organizers of the Diamond Jubilee, the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the throne that involves a 1,000-boat flotilla, feared the pier would affect the river’s tides, posing hazardous conditions to the vessels. Last month, the Port of London Authority reported the developer’s risk-assessment findings that the platform could be "hit by barges.”

It’s "surprising that the mayor of London was able to announce earlier this year that a kilometre-long Thames walkway would be delivered in time for the Olympics, when the mayor and other bodies are still seeking clarification over basic safety considerations,” Darren Johnson, London Assembly Green Party member, told BBC News.

In addition to safety, concerns have risen over more superficial points since the project's proposal, including criticism from government advisory body Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, which urged "further thought" on the design — the group had not found the park's concrete seats and large trees in containers "appropriate to the character of the river." The chief executive of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, which stages outdoor productions just across the river, was concerned about the “noise pollution,” while environmental groups raised questions about erosion.

The kilometer-long "park," which is actually closer in resemblance to a boardwalk or pier, is expected to become a major tourist destination to revitalize the desolate north bank of the Thames River. Park planners project 3.5 million visiting tourists annually, providing a connection to major sights including Tower of LondonTate Modern, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, as well as a strip of commercial venues with cafés and shops. It will be the world's first floating walkway, comprised of floating pavilions, trees, and open space in the western half, and a floating swimming pool and new docking station for Thames passenger services on the eastern half.

The project has has drawn natural comparisons to New York's High Line, a wildly popular park that has done wonders to reinvigorate its neighborhood on Manhattan's West Side, although critics are skeptical the same result could be achieved on the Thames. There is, after all, no such thing as the High Line effect, which comes straight from the mouth of Charles Renfro of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects enjoying the success of having dreamed up the High Line first. 

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