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Environment / Climate change

Thomas Heatherwick has designed a $170m floating park for the Hudson River

London has its Garden Bridge: a proposed a £175m, foliage-strewn bridge across the Thames, put forward by architect Thomas Heatherwick and actress-cum-Ghurka-defender Joanna Lumley.

Now, New York has its own, eerily similar scheme:  plans for a garden above the Hudson River, designed by, you guessed it, Thomas Heatherwick. Only this time it’s a pier, connected by ramps to an esplanade on the city’s Lower West Side. And it’ll be almost entirely bankrolled by fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg and her husband, businessman Barry Diller. 

As schemes for celebrity-backed river gardens go, this one seems fairly sensible. The 2.7 acre garden pier (which would be known as Pier 55) would replace piers 54 and 53, and rejuvenate the spot from where Lusitania sailed and where the Titanic survivors landed. Moreover, according to the New York Timesaround $130m would be paid for by the couple’s foundation, with $40m coming from other sources, including city funds. Bill de Blasio, the city’s mayor, said of the project: “I know a good deal when I see one”. 

The pier would be built on what CBS News mysteriously described as an “undulating platform” (seasickness alert) and would include an amphitheatre and performance space. The plans also include provision to expand and improve the esplanade by the river’s edge. 

The Hudson River Park Trust, which manages the city’s piers, has said the project will begin construction in 2016. However, the project has yet to gain the approval of all trust members, or of the city’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Nonetheless, that’s more progress than Heatherwick has made on this side of the pond. As of this week, the Garden Bridge has only raised £110m of the £175m funding it needs.   

All images: Pier55/Heatherwick Studio.
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