Virtual Tour: The New York City High Line Reopening and Adapting

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SEGD is celebrating Women’s History Month by honoring our female Fellows and recognizing their outstanding work. First up is Paula Scher, a partner at the New York design firm Pentagram. In her video presentation from SEGD’s “Wayfinding and Placemaking Now” series, Scher gives viewers a virtual tour of the New York City High Line and speaks about how she and her team adapted the High Line’s iconic graphics when the popular attraction reopened to the public this past July.

How do you adapt the graphic design program of a popular New York City attraction in the midst of a pandemic? That was the challenge presented to Paula Scher and her design team at Pentagram this past summer—and they had less than two weeks to meet the challenge!

Scher had been involved in designing the High Line’s identity since 1999, ten years before it opened to the public, including the iconic “H” logo inspired by the railroad tracks that once ran along this elevated greenway.

Since opening to the public in 2008, the High Line has hosted thousands of visitors each year, both tourists and city residents. But when the pandemic hit, the High Line closed for four months—the city feared that COVID could easily spread among the people packed along its  narrow walkways.

But in July—with travel bans in place and few tourists in New York—the decision was made to reopen the High Line in limited capacity. Visitors would need to follow a one-way path and masks and social distancing would need to be observed.

But how to keep people properly spaced apart along the High Line’s walkways?

Scher looked to grocery check-out lanes as a model and specifically the graphic dots spaced six feet apart on the stores’ floors.

“The tried-and-true method that everybody seems to use are dots,” says Scher. “Let’s do dots.”

See how Scher and team did it—and did it smartly and beautifully—in her video presentation Virtual Tour: The New York City High Line Reopening and Adapting.