The Hudson Yards project will add 5,000 new housing units as an extension to the High Line.
In New York City, where unused space is hard to come by, construction has begun on a brand-new neighborhood. Aesthetically a continuation of the much-praised High Line elevated park, the Hudson Yards project will be built on platforms over active rail tracks. It will be a place where architects will have free reign, as many of the restrictions on building height and appearance will be absent.
More than 7 million square feet of construction in the Eastern Rail Yards will be underway by the year’s end, which will include, according to the press release, “two soaring commercial towers, more than 100 shops and restaurants, luxury and affordable residences, a boutique hotel, a unique cultural space and over six acres of open space.” The superblock, a practice of creating meticulously planned spaces cut off from the normal street grid, has returned with a new flair.
All of this will be held over the tracks with some incredibly strong supports: 300 caissons that have 90-ton cores encased in concrete. “It’s very rare that you build land,” Jay Cross, head of Related Hudson Yards, the site developer, told The Atlantic Cities. “Normally you just build on it.” The active rails provide some unique challenges, however, and construction will be precisely timed to the movements of the trains; at some points, workers will only have a couple of hours to get the caissons in place before a train comes roaring through. 3D modeling was used to pinpoint places in the track where the caissons could be drilled all the way into the concrete without disrupting the tracks.
The architects can follow the the model of Park Avenue near Grand Central which was similarly built over train tracks. “When you walk up and down Park Avenue, you’re not aware you’re on a platform over all the trains going into Grand Central,” Cross told Atlantic Cities. He hopes to accomplish a similar feat with his project, to the point that people will want to live on top of the tracks. “People will have no idea there are even trains underneath.”
Unsurprisingly considering its symbiotic relationship with trains, Hudson Yards will be also one of the most accessible sites in the region with connections to commuter rail, the subway system, the West Side Highway, the Lincoln Tunnel and ferries along the Hudson River. Thanks in part to an extension of the 7 train line, Grand Central Terminal will be only six minutes away by subway, and Penn Station, the nation’s busiest train station, will be a short walk away.