Non-Color at the High Line

Paleo Retiree writes:

Because I’m apparently someone who, once I’ve noticed something, can’t help noticing it over and over again, here’s another posting in what I guess is turning into a series about the way our new designers and developers are starving us of color.

I took a walk along NYC’s High Line the other day. The High Line is a celebrated new park that was built atop a previously abandoned elevated train track in the very far west of Manhattan. It has been a fabulous success — everyone likes strolling along the High Line — and the parts of Manhattan immediately flanking the High Line have been turned into a playground for trendy architects and developers hoping to capitalize on what’s Hot and Now.

Here’s a sample of the color-environment I walked through (in the West Village and Chelsea) to get to and from the High Line.


Let’s ignore for the sake of this posting the many factors that contribute to a seriously rich visual/tactile environment. Wait, am I nuts? Let’s first mention some of those factors: textures, materials, layers of shapes and patterns, an extraordinarily complex and changing play of light and shade, a magical way of sharing space and gestalt with nature, and harmonies on many levels.

OK, that particular pleasure to one side, let’s focus for a sec on color and nothing but color. Fair to characterize this as a warm and lively environment? Fair to associate warmth and color with coziness, nurturance, blood, flesh … and maybe even life itself? I certainly think so.

Now here’s a collection of snaps I took of the chic new structures around the High Line.


Tinny materials, flat planes, solipsistic standalone rhythms, ridigity and awkwardness where natural elements (trees and grass) go; and, as for light, almost nothing on offer but concrete matte-ness and glass-and-metal reflectiness.

Putting aside all that, how about color? I don’t know about you but I’m seeing nothing — literally nothing — but black, white and gray (as well as whatever it is that the omnipresent, impersonal metal and glass happen to be reflecting). And warmth? Not even on the agenda.

Why, why does our chic-design class want us living in a monochromatic world?


  • Eddie Pensier also walked the High Line.
  • In his survey of the charms of a modest neighborhood, Blowhard, Esq. ran across a lot of color. Charm seems to rank about as high on the priority-list of chic designers these days as color does. I wonder why.
  • I’m feeling tempted to buy this well-illustrated, chock-full-of-info book about the High line.

About Paleo Retiree

Onetime media flunky and movie buff and very glad to have left that mess behind. Formerly Michael Blowhard of the cultureblog Now a rootless parasite and bon vivant on a quest to find the perfectly-crafted artisanal cocktail.
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5 Responses to Non-Color at the High Line

  1. CMB says:

    These buildings are like visual Xanax, as if the whole point were to create a mood-free environment. They’re on the same spiritual plane as those dreary corporate plazas, full of dreadful sculptures and fountains and waterfalls, where you sit outside on a nice day and have a mood-free corporate lunch. The only thing I pick up from this style of architecture is a positive mania for anything large, ugly, and soul-crushing — because God forbid people feel anything. Then they might start getting ideas, and we can’t have that.


  2. jjbees says:

    Glass is cheap, architects are conformist fags.

    If brick was popular, everyone would be doing it.
    “Glass Soulcrush Blue” is just so IN right now.


  3. JV says:

    From a purely color perspective, the first panel of pictures is pretty homogenous. Everything is an amber, brick color. I guess it is better than the oppressive soullessness of glass boxes, but it’s not that vibrant either.


  4. Pingback: Architecture Du Jour: Celebration, Florida | Uncouth Reflections

  5. Pingback: Art and Architecture Du Jour: The Broad Museum, Los Angeles | Uncouth Reflections

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