High Line Gala Retains Intimacy With 600-Foot-Long Hanging Garden and Shared Plates

By Anna Sekula June 24, 2010, 10:20 AM EDT

Friends of the High Line Summer Benefit
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Over the years, the Friends of the High Line's benefit may have risen through the ranks of important fund-raisers, but the summer soiree still feels like an intimate family affair. On Monday night this sensibility was even more noticeable through the garden-party-style decor and a dinner of shared plates. Board member Bronson van Wyck returned to design the event, which brought 650 of the organization's supporters to High Line Park for cocktails and the Phillips de Pury & Company gallery for dinner, and raised $2.2 million for the park's maintenance and operation.

Honoring Donald R. Mullen Jr. and the Tiffany & Company Foundation for donating funds to help build the park's art program and sustain the maintenance of its plantings, the gala also celebrated the first year since the once-derelict railroad opened to the public. To reference this and the hundreds of wild plants and flowers that grow in the public space, the design team littered the dinner area with huckleberry, asparagus ferns, pitcher plants, blueberry branches, and other vegetation.

While moving the cocktail hour to the High Line provided more space for guests to roam, hosting the dinner portion in a venue as fragmented as the auction house's gallery meant the decor should feel somewhat continuous, while flowing from room to room, without looking overwhelmingly thematic. To tackle this, the Van Wyck & Van Wyck crew created a curving, 600-foot-long strip of foliage and suspended it overhead. The result of the installation not only served to guide guests through the space, but also disguised the stark white walls and ceiling with warmer colors and textures.

For the meal, Bite Food's Scott Skey and Nick Hosea also wanted to bring about a sense of comfort and move the menu beyond the traditional gala spread. To do so, the duo created three courses of small plates driven by seasonal produce from the green market. Designed specifically for sharing, the culinary offerings included a brightly colored ruby and golden beet terrine with goat cheese, mint, and black pepper; grilled chicken with yellow wax, Romano, and long beans; and brambleberry charlottes with lemon curd and basil.

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