Little Island by Heatherwick Studio gently rises in the Hudson River in NYC

Thomas Heatherwick's Little Island - a public park and a performance space - with its mushroom-shaped concrete columns is slowly taking shape off the Hudson River shoreline.

by Meghna Mehta Published on : Apr 16, 2020

After winning a design competition held in 2013, London-based Heatherwick Studio was appointed to build a new pier on Manhattan’s southwest riverside over the Hudson River in New York, USA. The Heatherwick Studio had gained much acclaim for their another project in the Hudson Yards district in New York - Vessel. Headed by famed British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the pier is being designed both as a public park and a world class outdoor performance space. Earlier called Pier 55, the project was later renamed ‘Little Island’. Recent photographs revealed the ongoing construction work that can be seen at 55 Hudson Greenway on the Hudson River, off the shoreline in New York's Chelsea neighbourhood.

  • The Little Island on Hudson River with concrete supports known as pots | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The Little Island on Hudson River with concrete supports known as pots Image Credit: Paul Clemence, Courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO
  • The Little Island is due for completion in 2021 | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The Little Island is due for completion in 2021 Image Credit: Paul Clemence, Courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO

The project initiated by the Hudson River Park Trust along with businessman and philanthropist Barry Diller faced many legal challenges, and in 2017 was also regarded unviable due to unforeseen environmental challenges. However, the project is now slowly taking shape off New York’s shoreline. Heatherwick Studio’s another project called 1000 Trees also uses a similar form, and is currently underway in Shanghai.

  • The undulating form of the protruding column structures to create a wave-like form | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The undulating form of the protruding column structures to create a wave-like form Image Credit: Paul Clemence, Courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO
  • The underpass that leads to the pier injects the form of the landscape | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The underpass that leads to the pier injects the form of the landscape Image Credit: Paul Clemence, Courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO
  • Southern space looking north from Gansevoort Peninsula | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    Southern space looking north from Gansevoort Peninsula Image Credit: Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio

With an interest in the hundreds of old wooden piles, which sprung out of the Hudson River as the structural remains of an old pier, the studio attempted to recreate the identity of the new development that could be created from re-adapting this form. The design evolved with new concrete piles appearing out of the water, extending skyward to inverted mushroom-like sections with a green landscape above. Extruded at different levels, the piles come together to then generate a wave-like topography of the park.

  • The Little Island along New York’s shoreline | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The Little Island along New York’s shoreline Image Credit: Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio
  • Concrete piles appear out of the water extending towards the sky | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    Concrete piles appear out of the water extending towards the sky Image Credit: Paul Clemence, Courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO
  • The joints between the adjacent inverted mushroom-like forms of the development | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The joints between the adjacent inverted mushroom-like forms of the development Image Credit: Paul Clemence, Courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO

The park will appear as a raised piece of land, up into the air that will not only counteract the windswept quality of the adjacent road but also cater to the need for an outdoor theatre and performance spaces. The resulting design is seen as a system of repeating piles conjoined to form a generous planter at each of their top. Every planter connects in a tessellating pattern at different heights to create a single manipulated piece of landscape. More than a hundred different species of indigenous trees and plants suited to the harsh extremes of New York climate will be planted within the thousands of tonnes of new soil. The ongoing construction shows the unique topography that will be experienced as one walks underneath to enter, as well as from above as the 280 piles rise out of the water.

  • The Little Island by Heatherwick Studio | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The Little Island by Heatherwick Studio Image Credit: Courtesy of Heatherwick Studio
  • The individual column structures that create landscaped green spaces above | Pier 55 | Heatherwick Studio | STIRworld
    The individual column structures that create landscaped green spaces above Image Credit: Paul Clemence, Courtesy of ARCHI-PHOTO

Apart from providing a delicately carved landscaped public park to the city, the new pier will include an outdoor theatre for over 700 people, a small performance area and a primary space for 3,500 people with multiple pathways providing varied unique viewing platforms towards the city of New York.

The project is due for completion in spring 2021.

Project Details

Name: Little Island
Architects: Heatherwick Studio
Client: Hudson River Park Trust (Hrpt) & Pier 55 Project Fund (P55p)
Location: New York, USA
Appointment: 2013
Status: Current
Size: 11,000 sqm
Group leader: Mat Cash
Project leader: Paul Westwood, Neil Hubbard
Studio team: Simona Auteri, Jordan Bailiff, Einar Blixhavn, Mark Burrows, Mat Cash, Darragh Casey, Jorge Xavier Méndez-Cáceres, John Cruwys, Antoine Van Erp, Alex Flood, Michal Gryko, Hayley Henry, Ben Holmes, Ben Jacobs, Stepan Martinovsky, Simon Ng, Wojtek Nowak, Hannah Parker, Giovanni Parodi, Luke Plumbley, Jeff Powers, Enrique Pujana, Akari Takebayashi, Ondrej Tichý, Ahira Sanjeet, Charles Wu, Meera Yadave
Collaborators: Arup, Charcoal Blue, Steven Daldry, Scott Rudin, Kate Horton, Mnla, Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, Hunter Roberts Construction Group

Comments

Comments Added Successfully!

About Author

Meghna Mehta

Meghna Mehta

An architect by education and a journalist by passion, Mehta pursued a crossroad between her two interests. Having completed an M.Arch from CEPT University in Ahmedabad, she has worked in the field of architectural journalism for over 5 years. Besides content generation for STIR, she continues to teach in architectural schools in Mumbai.

Recommended

LOAD MORE
see more articles
1056,899,890,1028,975

Keep it stirring

get regular updates SIGN UP

Collaborate with us

This site uses cookies to offer you an improved and personalised experience. If you continue to browse, we will assume your consent for the same.
LEARN MORE AGREE