The Hudson River Park Trust and the Diller – Von Furstenberg Family Foundation Alliance announced plans to build Pier55, a public park and performance space designed by Thomas Heatherwick for Manhattan’s West Side. The proposed $170 million redevelopment of the crumbling Pier 54 would be paid for primarily by Barry Diller, the billionaire head of the media and internet company IAC whose Frank Gehry-designed headquarters sits just five blocks north. The city, the Hudson River Park Trust and the State of New York would pay the balance beyond Diller’s promised $130 million. Additionally, Diller would fund the park’s operation and maintenance for 20 years.
Heatherwick’s design, carried out with landscape architect Mathews Nielsen, is a striking one, propping an undulating artificial landscape upon 300 mushroom-cap columns that would rise from the Hudson River. The 2.4-acre (1-hectare) park, accessible by walkways from a new esplanade, would include three performance venues, including an amphitheater.
Pier55 is located in a part of Manhattan that has seen a great number of changes in the last two decades, moving from a formerly industrial area to a popular residential, office and tourist destination. Much of the recent changes are thanks to the conversion of the elevated High Line. The Whitney Museum of American Art will open its new Renzo Piano-designed building next year on a site next to the southern terminus of the High Line and only a few blocks away from Pier55. Combined with these pieces and the slow conversion of nearby Pier 57 into a cultural and commercial venue, Pier55 promises to further transform the West Side into a postindustrial playground.