‘Floating’ park on New York’s Hudson River moves one step closer to reality

The developers envision the 2.4-acre space as a major performance arts venue.

February 20, 2015 |
‘Floating’ park on New York’s Hudson River moves one step closer to reality

The 2.4-acre park is the brainchild of billionaire mogul Barry Diller and his wife, the fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. Renderings courtesy Heatherwick Studio

The Hudson River Park Trust in New York City voted unanimously on Feb. 11 to approve a plan to build a $130 million pier, with lush greenery and an outdoor performance space, on the Hudson River, according to Business Insider.

The so-called “floating park” is the brainchild of billionaire mogul Barry Diller and his wife, the fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. The 2.4-acre park, officially called Pier 55, will rise out of the river, 186 feet from its shorelines, near West 14th Street. Various news reports, including one posted on the website DNAinfo.com, state that the park is scheduled to open to the public sometime in 2019.

Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, will contribute $113 million for construction, and will finance the park’s maintenance for 20 years. The city is kicking in $17 million, and the state will provide $18 million toward an expanded public esplanade between Bloomfield and 14th streets.

Diller’s largesse is the single biggest private donation to a public park in New York’s history, according to Capital New York, eclipsing a $100 million gift that hedge fund manager John Paulson bestowed on the Central Park Conservatory in 2012.

 

 

More than half of the performances held at the pier’s 700-seat amphitheater will be free or low-cost, according to a 20-year lease awarded to Diller’s P55 nonprofit organization. (That lease includes an option to renew for another 10 years.)

Diller told Capital New York that the nonprofit would produce works “across all forms of performance—musical, musical comedy, concert, pop concert, spoken theatrical play, ballet, etc.” P55’s board members include the film and theater producer Scott Rudin, movie director Stephen Daldry, and theater director George Wolfe,

To deflect criticism that this is just another land grab by a rich entrepreneur, the Hudson River Park Trust said it is establishing a community advisory committee comprised of local residents and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, which would consult on the park’s programming and ticket distribution.

The next step will be for the developers to apply for permits form the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  The goal is for construction to begin next year.

Capital New York reports that Heatherwick Studios has been commissioned to design the floating park. Heatherwick is notable for having built a garden bridge over the Thames River in London. It will work with landscape architect Signe Nielsen, who designed the Tribeca section of the Hudson River Park.

The new pier would replace the existing, albeit crumbling, Pier 54, which once served as one of Hudson River Park’s main performance venues. Capitol New York and the New York Times report that the new pier would stretch 320 feet by 320 feet between Pier 54’s old pile field and the pile field that once supported Pier 56. The parallelogram-shaped pier would be built atop 300 concrete columns that range in height from 15 feet to 62 feet above the water level.

 

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