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Architecture students have inspiring meeting with architect of New York's High Line

Architecture students have told of how they have returned inspired from New York after meeting with one of the designers behind Manhattan’s iconic High Line.

The High Line project saw old freight lines transformed into a high-rise parkland. It now pulls in six million visitors every year, and has led to a regeneration of the areas along the route.

Matthew Johnson of Diller Scofidio + Renfro gave a personal tour to Architecture students who were in New York as part of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s biggest-ever overseas visit involving more than 1,000 students and staff.

INSET high linearchitect

Matthew (pictured above) explained the design process, methodology and inspiration for the High Line, which was scheduled for demolition until a grassroots campaign was launched to save it.  

Students also had a tour of the architect’s Manhattan offices and were told about some of the new projects the company are involved in.

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The visit was arranged by Architecture senior lecturer Mary Johnson who put together an itinerary designed to inspire and enthuse students and get them thinking about different areas of practice. They also visited New Amsterdam which was the birthplace of New York and had a tour of the New Yorker Hotel, which opened in 1930, from its civil engineer.

INSET high line

Architecture students Ben Wiles (above, right) and Grace Butcher (above, second from left) described the visit as a dream come true. Their experiences in New York have led both to revise their final year project to incorporate new ideas and influences.

HIGHLINE tour inset

Ben said: “Mary put together an incredible itinerary. We were able to see things that the general public would never be able to.

“New York in general blew me away but the opportunities we had to meet people such as Matthew Johnson and see inside the New Yorker Hotel were incredible. The support from the university made it all possible because there is no way we’d be able to visit New York for this price and have these opportunities again.

“For me, it’s sparked so many ideas and new ways of doing things. It really did make you think, it was an unforgettable week.”

For Grace, who is doing her dissertation on the High Line, is was the perfect opportunity for in-depth research.

high line inset 3

She said: “To be able to meet the architect and visit the practice, it was so exciting and motivating. He explained the reason behind certain aspects of the High Line, and how the inspiration for the vegetation was the story that had been left behind by the trains whilst travelling around the country, picking up seeds and consequently scattered in transit and left to grow.
“The whole experience was so inspiring, the trip to New York has given me the confidence to aim and work hard for opportunities that seem out of my reach."

DMU’s visit to New York, which involved more than 1,000 students and staff, is thought to be the single largest overseas trip organised by a UK university.

Posted on Friday 3rd February 2017

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