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Thomas Heatherwick Is Designing A $170 Million Park Above The Hudson River

Billionaire Barry Diller and designer Diane von Furstenberg want to turn a sinking pier into a 2.7-acre park and performance space.

Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg–the billionaire couple and major funders of the High Line–are planning to bankroll another futuristic park forged from aging city infrastructure: a park built on a pier stretching out over the Hudson River.

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The $170 million project, born out of a partnership between the Hudson River Park Trust and the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, will be designed by British architect and park-design wizard Thomas Heatherwick along with landscape architect Mathews Nielsen. (Heatherwick Studio is also in the midst of designing a garden park across the Thames River in London.)


Called Pier55, the planned NYC park’s undulating topography–it will be built on a platform resting on a series of interconnected mushroom-shaped columns that range between 70 and 15 feet above the water–are designed to create a marine sanctuary for striped bass, and serve as yet another green space to protect lower Manhattan from storm surges. From above, the park appears to be a rolling, forested hillside floating above the river, while at the water level, it looks more like the hull of a ship that has put down concrete roots.

Pier55 will also feature three performance spaces, according to the New York Times, which could accommodate music, dance, theater, and community events.


The park will be connected back to Manhattan via an expanded public esplanade paid for by the city, and will shoot out near the southern tip of that other New York park, the High Line. The degrading piles from Pier 54 and 56, (where ships like the Lusitania once docked) will bookend the park, remaining as fish habitats.

While most ideas for floating park space along the shores of Manhattan come off as more conceptual fantasy than solid architectural plans, this park already has powerful allies with deep pockets. In addition to the Diller-von Furstenberg family, it will be funded by the Hudson River Park Trust, New York City, and New York State.

According to a press release provided by the Hudson River Park Trust, which operates all the piers along the waterfront, the project will start construction in 2016 and cost somewhere upwards of $130 million, though the Times calculates that the number will be closer to $170 million. However, the park still needs the support of all the trust’s board members, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Environmental Conservation.

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[H/T: Gothamist]

*The original headline accompanying this article referred to designer Thomas Heatherwick as Thomas Heathwick. We regret the error.

About the author

Shaunacy Ferro is a Brooklyn-based writer covering architecture, urban design and the sciences. She's on a lifelong quest for the perfect donut.

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