By Anna Sekula Posted May 24, 2011, 2:10 PM EDT
NEW YORK Two years after opening the first section of the High Line, the nonprofit advocacy group that fought for its preservation is ready to open the second and final portion of the elevated park this June. To give supporters a first glimpse at the design from James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Friends of the High Line moved its annual benefit—an event that has grown consistently since its inception in 2001—from June to May, hosting more than 900 guests on May 16.
Attendees, including Friends of the High Line founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond, designer Diane von Furstenberg and her husband, Barry Diller, architects Richard Meier and Elizabeth Diller, hotelier André Balazs, and arts philanthropist Agnes Gund, not only took a stroll on the branch of the park that extends from West 20th to West 30th Street, but also sipped on cocktails and dined beside it for the event.
Behind the planning of the gala were Alicia King, the special event manager for the organization, and Jason Lord, director of special events for after-party sponsor Calvin Klein, who tapped Van Wyck & Van Wyck to produce and design the affair. The date change did have an impact on the plans for the event: Friends of the High Line originally wanted to throw an alfresco party, but with last week's chilly wet weather—a contrast to June's typically warm and dry climate—the organizers brought the outside indoors, with a greenhouselike function under clear-span tents.
Armed with custom umbrellas—Friends of the High Line made 800 of the items as gifts—attendees traversed the new section of the once-abandoned structure before heading to the cocktail reception set up underneath the 30th Street and 10th Avenue entrance to the High Line. This area, which doubled as the after-party site for Calvin Klein, was dressed simply with sod laid in a garden grid pattern on the concrete, white planters of white rosebushes, and minimalist park benches topped with white cushions for seating.
The design of the dinner tent took on a similar look, with a mostly white color scheme and clean modern furnishings. However, the greenery was more extensive in this space, as the producers took their cues from the park and the organization's logo. A 25-foot-tall H-shaped topiary marked the entrance and a vertical flower bed of grasses, ferns, and other leafy plants covered the rear wall. More wild foliage coated the stage backdrop, wrought-iron chandeliers, and spheres hung from the ceiling. As a counterpoint to this, the tabletop centerpieces comprised more delicate flora, including white peonies, green parrot tulips, and ranunculus.