Thomas Heatherwick to create garden pier


View of Southern Space. Pier 55 Inc./Heatherwick Studio

Just as plans for London’s Garden Bridge move closer to realisation, Thomas Heatherwick has turned his attention to another floating park – this time on Manhattan’s lower west side.

Heatherwick Studio is set to transform a historic, but dilapidated, pier on the Hudson River into a public garden with hills, trees, lush lawns, winding paths and variously-sized performance spaces.

The square Pier 55 will be supported by up to 250 pillars, opening up into white tails creating a characteristic Heatherwick opening cup shape, with the park rising up from the centre on each side.

The project will replace the “deteriorated” Pier 54 on the New York City waterfront, once a Cunard White-Star pier where the Lusitania was launched and survivors from the Titanic disembarked. It is designed to enhance the 4-mile Hudson River Park, with its annual 17 million visitors. Held in great affection by millions of New Yorkers with a history of concerts and performances, Pier 54 will thereby be “re-imagined” as a vibrant arts and community space.

A place of discovery for visitors to wander and wonder, there will be spaces to lounge, eat or just lie in the grass taking in the landscape and the sweeping views of the Manhattan and New Jersey skylines by day and night.

pier by day and night

View looking west from esplanade and view of the amphitheatre. Pier 55 Inc./Heatherwick Studio

Construction of the 2.7 acre pier is expected to start in 2016 and will cost over $130 million – $17 million from the City of New York with the rest being donated by The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, well-known for its sponsorship of the High Line. Diana von Furstenberg is the celebrated fashion designer and Diller is a former head of Paramount Pictures and Fox and now CEO of the internet company IAC. Their endowment will be the largest for any park in the City’s history. A mandatory 60 day public review and comment period now follows the announcement.

Pier in the context of the West Side

View of Pier 55 in the context of the west side. Pier 55 Inc./Heatherwick Studio


Of the inspiration behind his design Heatherwick says, “ When I was little, I used to visit my great aunt who lived here and I never forgot being driven down the West Side Highway and seeing the fields of disused pile heads sticking out of the river. All these years later, my studio and I are honoured to now be growing another set of river piles in the midst of these historic ones to hold up a new phenomenal public park.”

Leave a Reply