Heatherwick Studio’s Little Island opens in New York as a green microcosm
by Jerry ElengicalMay 25, 2021
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Meghna MehtaPublished 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 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.
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 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.
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.
Name: Little Island
Architects: Heatherwick Studio
Client: Hudson River Park Trust (Hrpt) & Pier 55 Project Fund (P55p)
Location: New York, USA
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
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