GardenDrumPier55 Park in NYC

Aerial view of Pier 55 Heatherwick Studio

Aerial view of Pier 55. Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

If you’d like a new city park, why not build an island? Heatherwick Studio has designed a new Pier55 park and performance space spreading above the Hudson River on Manhattan’s Lower West side in New York. Could it rival the famous High Line?

The 2.7 acre (1 hectare) diamond-shaped design uses landform to create separate areas for quiet activities like lounging about on the grass and also three new outdoor venues for music, dance, theatre and community events, including a 700-seat amphitheatre. The higher parts of the park will have spectacular views of both the New Jersey and Manhattan skylines.

View of Pier 55 in the context of the west side Heatherwick Studio

View of Pier 55 in the context of the west side Heatherwick Studio

The island park is supported by 341 concrete columns, ranging in height from 15 to 62 feet, sunk into the river bed, and two pedestrian walkways connect it to the river bank and the four-mile long (but only partly completed) Hudson River Park.

The design renderings from London-based Heatherwick Studio show an exciting, undulating landform, with tall trees and sinuous paths. Heatherwick Studio has also designed the new pedestrian ‘Garden Bridge’ across London’s River Thames.

The project is mostly funded by a not-for-profit Family Foundation supported by noted philanthropists the Diller-von Furstenburg family, with the balance coming from New York City. The Foundations’s gift is the largest ever in NYC to a public park. Funding includes 20 years of park maintenance.

View of Southern space looking north from Gansevoort Peninsula. Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

View of Southern space looking north from Gansevoort Peninsula. Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

The new Pier55 will sit partly over the now rotting piers of the old Pier 54, which will be retained for their fish habitat.

Not all New Yorkers are welcoming the new park. Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick and Harvard professor Jerold Kayden have criticised a project that allows philanthropists to “sculpt the city for themselves” and public park advocates have said that philanthropic donations like that from the Diller-von Furstenberg Foundation should go into a centralised fund for more equitable distribution across NYC. However it’s a reality that donors are attracted by the idea that something architecturally significant will be created with their money, rather than it getting split up into smaller grants for park refurbishing and maintenance.

And there’s no doubt that this is architecturally significant, with the potential to rival the High Line park as an attraction for both New Yorkers and tourists.

Pier55 view from Hudson River Park. Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

Pier55 view from Hudson River Park. Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

Some local community groups have also expressed concern about the environmental impact of disturbing river sediments and shading the river beds, but Pier55 Inc. points to its undulating form and height above the river which will allow sunlight to penetrate large areas below it.

Construction should begin by early 2016, with completion scheduled for late 2018 to early 2019.

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One thought on “Pier55 Park in NYC

  1. Hmm, the proposed Garden Bridge in London, designed by the same firm, is proving hugely controversial. Objections include its purpose, location, cost, access levels, procurement, planning permissions, and lack of many actual plants. Google “London Garden Bridge” to get a sense of the scale of the objections and news of the current legal challenges the bridge is facing. This is just an example: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/22/thames-garden-bridge-huge-expensive-folly

    This NYC project looks like it could go the same way…

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