Encounters : Robert Hammond: Leaving the Higher Lifestyle

November 27th, 2013

Erin Baiano for The New York Times

‘If Central Park’s main conceit was to be an escape from the town, what can make the Large Line unique is that it is not an escape from the town. It is component of the metropolis.’ Robert Hammond

On a Sunday early morning in early November, as Robert Hammond was getting one particular of his previous formal walks together the Substantial Line, the city park he served produce fourteen a long time back, he was approached by a tall, properly-dressed male who appeared to recognize him.

“You are the creator of this?” asked the gentleman, who launched himself as Philip Letts and discussed that he was working on a development undertaking in Bogot?, Colombia. “May I trouble you for a photograph?”

Following a quick image, Mr. Letts asked Mr. Hammond for his card, and ongoing on his stroll.

A reporter asked Mr. Hammond if this type of issue occurs a lot. “It takes place,” he said with a slightly ashamed shrug, quickly deflecting to the next topic. 

In February, Mr. Hammond, 44, president and government director of Pals of the Substantial Line, a nonprofit organization he was the co-founder of in 1999 with Joshua David, announced he would depart at year’s conclude, now just a number of months absent. In January, he ideas to go to Rishikesh, India, for a 3-month meditation retreat.

He does not have a following act. “Everyone retains asking me, and I do not have a plan,” Mr. Hammond stated.

In 1999, Mr. Hammond achieved Mr. David at a community board conference on the potential of the High Line and identified a shared desire in preserving it. The two set together a pie-in-the-sky group to reclaim the space of the abandoned elevated railway. 1 wag explained their endeavor as “two fellas and a brand.”

They connected with kindred spirits by way of Yahoo eGroups and embarked on an odyssey by means of the complexities of railroad and zoning legal guidelines, financial feasibility reports, general public and non-public fund-raising and, ultimately, a sophisticated and in depth development project. The initial phase of the Higher Line opened in June 2009.

At Gansevoort and Washington Streets, Mr. Hammond pointed out the new Large Line headquarters, adjacent to the underneath-development Whitney Museum. It is a collaboration of the Renzo Piano Constructing Workshop and Beyer Blinder Belle. Mr. Hammond’s firm was scheduled to go in early December, but the shift has been delayed until finally early up coming calendar year. Mr. David will just take on a new situation as president, efficient at the commencing of subsequent 12 months, continuing to emphasis on fund-elevating and board improvement.

“It’s a small unpleasant for me, to leave it on a day-to-working day basis,” Mr. Hammond mentioned. “The biggest reward is functioning with these folks.

“The issue Josh and I did was carry them all together,” he explained, pausing. It was the initial of several occasions throughout the wander when his voice caught. “I don’t even want to go there. It is tough.”

He bent down to get a sip of drinking water from the fountain. Mr. Hammond, who oversees working day-to-day functions, experienced recently returned from Sydney, Australia, the place he spied a stainless metal fountain he coveted. “This one has to be painted,” he explained. “The portray is a issue. It was off the rack. We appeared at a bunch of kinds. This is fantastic looking and not pricey.”

He approached a area where they analyzed paint choices for the Artwork Deco railings with the advice of Amanda Burden, the chairwoman of the city’s Preparing Office. “I just located a picture of when we painted our samples on the aspect of the Substantial Line,” he said. “It looks like a Neapolitan with all these various shades. We ached in excess of them. Amanda Stress would search at them and we could argue them. This is an off-the-rack Sherwin-Williams, a Greenblack.”

He walked under the Regular Lodge, the glassy large-rise in the meatpacking district, with its sweeping sights, north and south, of the Substantial Line. “If Central Park’s main conceit was to be an escape from the city, what helps make the Large Line special is that it is not an escape from the town,” he said. “It is portion of the town.”

Jenny Gersten, who previous served as the creative director of the Williamstown Theater Festival, will be the new government director of the Large Line. “If the story of the firm has really been about advocacy, design and style and creating, the potential of the firm, the Substantial Line, is how we interact with site visitors,” Mr. Hammond mentioned. “One of the troubles — and it is great that we have so many website visitors, it is great for the city and wonderful for the economic system — we have to make confident the Substantial Line is for New Yorkers, not just vacationers. A single of the approaches we do that is by way of applications connecting with locals.”

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