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chris08876 Nov 19, 2014 7:21 PM

NEW YORK | "Pier55" Redevelopment
Hudson River Park Gets $100 Million Launch
A rendering shows the landscape of Pier55, which is planned to replace Pier 54 on the west side of Manhattan. PIER55/HEATHERWICK STUDIO


It is one of the largest privately funded parks in the country, and it will soon be off Manhattan’s western shore.

On Monday, billionaire businessman Barry Diller ; his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg ; and the Hudson River Park Trust are expected to announce the creation of a $130 million, 2.7-acre pier, public park and performance space near New York’s Meatpacking District.

Construction of the park, financed primarily through the couple’s private foundation, will begin in 2016 and include the demolition of the old Pier 54, which has been unused for years. The new pier will be called Pier55, and Mr. Diller has created an independent foundation that will build, operate and provide cultural programming for it in cooperation with the Hudson River Park Trust.

The city is providing $17 million, money that was allocated for the project under the Bloomberg administration and reaffirmed by Mayor Bill de Blasio . But the vast majority of the financing, more than $100 million, comes from Mr. Diller, the 72-year-old chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, a New York-based media company. New York state isn’t contributing funds to the park but will provide $18 million for construction of an esplanade leading into it.


Hudson River Park Trust has the right to build piers and water rights up to 1,000 feet off Manhattan’s shoreline. Permits from the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of Engineers will be needed for Pier55, but it requires no major city approvals. The Hudson River Park Trust will vote on whether to approve a 20-year lease to Mr. Diller’s foundation for the operation and construction of the pier.


Current Site:


chris08876 Nov 23, 2014 4:04 PM

Image: Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio

mhays Nov 23, 2014 8:16 PM

That's really great design. They take a relatively small space and make it feel like several "rooms". Sloping inward will allow it to be more of a respite from the city.

I assume they'd use a lot of prefab construction to avoid the huge challenges of building over water. Probably a stationary barge and another for the crane to support construction. Move a lot of materials by water, which will allow larger prefab pieces than would fit on trucks....

chris08876 Nov 24, 2014 7:50 AM

I agree. Its good that the city is utilizing many of these piers towards the public sphere. Some of these piers are also going to be used as an extra source of affordable housing such as pier 40. Design wise, I think this is a success. Not overly flashy, and will fit in perfectly with the the rest of the Hudson River Park. Also, a fish habitat will be created between the pile fields of Pier 54 and 56.

Some extra info could be found for those interested:

Also to find out news about HR Park and some of the changes that are occurring.

StoOgE Nov 24, 2014 5:42 PM

Fantastic design.

I can't wait to see what the city comes up with on the East River Park.

Everything on the Hudson to date is just fantastic. I'm a huge fan of the portion North of 59th (though, I really wish they could do something to connect from 59th down to the mid-town portion of the park).

NYguy Dec 6, 2014 12:44 PM

Haven't been to excited about this, but the renders are nice...


sparkling Dec 8, 2014 4:06 AM

I just came across this opinion piece from November 30. Misplaced criticism or not is for you to decide.

The Billionaires’ Park
NOV. 30, 2014


CAN billionaires remake the Manhattan shoreline? Apparently so, in light of the news that a new park will be just offshore in the Hudson River, largely financed by the media mogul Barry Diller and situated, conveniently, a short walk from his office in Chelsea.

The new park will also be near the High Line, allowing for an easy tour of how private wealth is remaking the city’s public spaces. This trend isn’t unique to New York: Philanthropists are also busy reshaping the riverfront of Philadelphia and building a green corridor through Houston. In Tulsa, Okla., a vast new park system is being financed in part by the billionaire George B. Kaiser.

While it’s hard to argue with more parks, or the generosity of donors like Mr. Diller, this isn’t just about new patches of green. It’s more evidence of how a hollowed-out public sector is losing its critical role, and how private wealth is taking the wheel and having a growing say over basic parts of American life.

The new era of parks philanthropy began in the 1980s, when private donors created the Central Park Conservancy, a nonprofit that has since taken a central role in shaping the park. Starting in the late 1990s, Friends of Hudson River Park, a likewise privately bankrolled nonprofit, has helped expand what is now the second-biggest park in Manhattan. Diller Island (although it won’t be called that) will further transform the shoreline.

One result of this influx of funds into putatively public parks is that the city’s more affluent sections have nicer open spaces and playgrounds. Central Park is now a gleaming jewel thanks to $700 million in private investments, and two years ago a hedge fund manager — who lives in a mansion steps from the park — gave $100 million to shine it further. Private money now covers 75 percent of the park’s annual operating budget.

Meanwhile, many parks, starved of funds, have fallen into disrepair. This fall Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to spend $130 million to upgrade 35 parks in poor neighborhoods — the same amount Mr. Diller and his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, pledged for the new 2.7-acre park.

And who will use this pricey new island park, in one of the most expensive and least densely populated parts of Manhattan? Take a stroll on the High Line, which was also heavily financed by Mr. Diller and Ms. von Furstenberg, and you’ll get a sense of the likely visitors: out-of-town tourists and locals who can afford lunch in the Meatpacking District.

The plans for Mr. Diller’s park, like the High Line, illustrate the sorts of recherché spaces that such projects prioritize: amphitheaters, footpaths, gardens. While these are all nice, they fit most neatly into the lifestyles of the affluent, who don’t need more open public spaces for things like exercise or family gatherings, since they often have second homes outside the city. Thanks to Mr. Diller’s impressive largess, New York will have another striking park, but it’s unclear how useful it will be to ordinary people.

The design, placement and maintenance of parks were once a function of democratic processes. Now, as a citizen, you feel like a spectator to largely privatized decision making. A declining public sector, burdened by budget cuts, creates a vacuum for imaginative civic leadership that is being filled by a new class of Medicis. Things are going to get a lot worse, too. Nondefense discretionary federal spending will fall to its lowest level in modern history by 2017, leaving Washington less able to finance projects like new parks and infrastructure.
In contrast, the combined net worth of the Forbes 400 has nearly doubled since 2009, to $2.3 trillion, and today’s big philanthropy is merely a warm-up for larger giving to come. More than 100 billionaires worldwide have pledged to give away at least half their wealth, further supersizing philanthropy even as the fiscal screws on government turn tighter as the boomer generation retires. Their beneficence is admirable, but it also poses a threat to the ability of everyday Americans to have an equal voice in civic life.

This power shift is part of a larger story about rising inequality and shrinking democracy. One reason the wealthy are flush with cash is that they’ve paid historically low taxes in recent decades, which helps explain why government can’t afford to do big things. A small step toward rebalancing things would be to tax capital gains — the source of much of the wealth of the superrich — at the same rate as regular income, and then dedicate most of that money to rebuilding our eroding infrastructure.

As for ensuring that all New Yorkers have equal access to good public parks, we should require private parks conservancies to chip in to rehabilitate parks in low-income parts of the city, just as developers are expected to help finance affordable housing. If we want even the semblance of equity in civic spaces, new ways must be found to pay for it.

chris08876 Dec 8, 2014 4:53 AM

Just some writer who feels that there are too many rich people. More political than anything. Although I do agree that the wealthy should pay their fare share, but thats for another thread.

NYguy Dec 9, 2014 3:35 PM


CAN billionaires remake the Manhattan shoreline? Apparently so, in light of the news that a new park will be just offshore in the Hudson River, largely financed by the media mogul Barry Diller and situated, conveniently, a short walk from his office in Chelsea.

Philanthropists are also busy reshaping the riverfront of Philadelphia and building a green corridor through Houston. In Tulsa, Okla., a vast new park system is being financed in part by the billionaire George B. Kaiser.

While it’s hard to argue with more parks, or the generosity of donors like Mr. Diller, this isn’t just about new patches of green. It’s more evidence of how a hollowed-out public sector is losing its critical role, and how private wealth is taking the wheel and having a growing say over basic parts of American life.

Stupid article. Let's see, would we rather have something paid for privately, or nothing at all? Just a stupid article, especially when you consider the problems with financing for NYC parks.

Perklol Dec 9, 2014 10:20 PM

its the NYT... they have really good articles

chris08876 Dec 9, 2014 11:17 PM

Yea I never understood why some criticize individuals or organizations with money. You need money to build in NYC. In Manhattan, you need a boatload of money. They don't seem to realize that or understand the economics behind it. They always bring up class and all that. This is a Capitalistic society and NYC shows this better than any other place. Even a park can become very expensive.

Perklol Dec 10, 2014 10:15 AM


Originally Posted by chris08876 (Post 6837573)
Even a park can become very expensive.


The city spend over $130 million on parks. They won't spend more on a new park at the moment.

sparkling Jan 8, 2015 11:14 PM

Board Likes Ambitious Pier55, But Wants More Transparency

Quite a lenghty article, I am posting the first paragraph and if interested you can read the rest here

January 8, 2015
Shannon Ayala


The park that billionaire Barry Diller would like to perch above the Hudson River by the remnants of Pier 54 got a nod of support from Community Board 2 at a public meeting last night. But after hearing from a polarized crowd, the Parks and Waterfront committee agreed that concerns—including how the Hudson River Park Trust worked on this plan behind-the-scenes for two-plus years, and transparency from this point on—will have to be addressed.

chris08876 Jan 9, 2015 4:15 PM

ChiTownWonder Feb 6, 2015 1:00 PM

looks like a bunch of golf tees, im not sure if i like it. will they keep the gate of pier 54 or take it down? in the areal renderings it seems that its shadow is there but i cant seem to find the actual gate

EDIT: found it :) It looks like they are planing to keep the gate there.:tup:

sparkling Feb 12, 2015 4:34 PM

Pier55 Park Moves Toward Reality

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Jessica Dailey


Plans for an undulating, Avatar-esque floating park in the Hudson River are zipping right along. Since the design for Pier55, a Heatherwick Studio-designed green space funded largely by billionaire Barry Diller, were revealed in November, the ambitious project won approval from the local community board, and now the Times reports that a 20-year lease deal has been made with Hudson River Park Trust. The agreement makes official Diller's commitment to running the pier, to which he and his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, pledged $113 million. The city will make us the rest of the $130 million cost.

Given that Hudson River Park has struggled financially (see: Pier 40), residents in the area worry what will happen 20 years in the future, after Diller's lease ends. But Hudson River Park Trust isn't that concerned about it. President Madelyn Wils told the Times that they have "all the protections we need to make sure the project is financed." In addition to normal park things like paths and landscaping, Pier55 will have a 700-seat amphitheater that will be rented out for cultural events.

Other concerns are environmental and could prove to be a challenge for the project, as the Army Corps of Engineers and the State Department of Environmental Conservation still need to approve the plans. The pier will built near 13th Street beside the crumbling Pier 54, which will be demolished. Three hundred concrete columns will be drilled into the riverbed for Pier55, and the new structure will jut 186 feet over the river. Environmentalists want a full environmental impact statement to examine how the pier will affect "an undisturbed area of the river that is a designated estuarine sanctuary."

Again, Wils doesn't think this is a problem, as the Trust completed a 200-page environmental assessment form, but this has less requirements than a full EIS, so the group Riverkeeper is pushing for more.

If the Trust nabs timely approvals from the Army Corps and DEC, construction should being in 2016.

chris08876 Apr 20, 2015 4:27 PM

City Has Backup Plan if Barry Diller Pulls Out of Island Project


Billionaire media mogul Barry Diller plans to build a $151 million island oasis in Hudson River Park — if the group that runs the park meets his demands to revitalize nearby dormant space along the waterfront.

Under a lease inked with the Hudson River Park Trust, Diller has the right to pull his money from the project at Pier 54 if overhauls at neighboring piers don’t meet his satisfaction.

The lease sets out expectations that two long-troubled points in the cash-strapped park — Pier 57, a dilapidated former garage, and Gansevoort Peninsula, a swath of unused land whose fate is tied to the construction of a waste transfer station — will be developed into parkland and a commercial space.

Diller’s donation is also predicated on the construction of a publicly funded $22.5 million esplanade that will serve as an entrance to the island.

The city has pledged $17 million toward Diller’s vision and the adjacent esplanade. But DNAinfo New York has learned that, to hedge against the possibility of Diller bowing out, the Parks Department and the trust created a backup plan, a more modest $30 million park at Pier 54.

DNAinfo reviewed a working draft of the contract between the city Parks Department and the trust, which reveals that if Diller pulls out, the city’s $17 million investment will go toward a park in the same spot — but it'll come without the bells and whistles in the billionaire’s vision. The contract is still in the process of being approved.

The difference between the parks is dramatic. Where Diller imagines a floating paradise for fundraisers and theater shows, the alternative park would be similar to other pier parks along the Hudson.

Diller’s park, to be re-dubbed Pier55, would be a 2.4-acre futuristic confection designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick. The alternative park would be 1.9 acres, with stainless steel railings and some decorative planters.

The trust told DNAinfo that it was confident that Diller’s project would move forward without a hitch.

“We have no reason to believe the Pier55 project won’t proceed. Good planning dictates that, as a contract contingency, the Trust and city consider the ‘what if’ scenario of no Pier 55 project,” Hudson River Park Trust spokesman James Yolles said.

mrnyc Apr 22, 2015 3:47 PM

^ pier 57 is supposed to be redeveloped, although i don't notice anything obvious happening there at the moment:

sparkling Apr 23, 2015 4:15 PM

Barry Diller-Funded Pier55 Plan: Pocket Gadget, Meme-tecture, or Something More Nefarious?

Alexandra Lange
Thursday, April 23, 2015


Pier55 is a gadget. Pocket-size, stuffed with event spaces and paths to point you at the view, it will dangle off the southwestern edge of Manhattan like a Leatherman on a wallet chain. There's a scenic overlook, a 200-seat amphitheater, a tunnel designed to give you an eyeful of designer Thomas Heatherwick's signature mushroom piers, varied in height, holding up the molded surface of dirt, concrete and grass. Underneath the lawn, the plaza, and the pre-ruined staircases must be a theaters-worth of lights, wiring, speakers, electronics veiled in a skim-coat of plant life. As a design, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg's "$113 million dollar "gift" to New York City, is the culmination of two forces: private funding for public parks, with the High Line as reference point for elaborated outdoor urbanism, and architecture as online popularity contest, where good publicity is in direct relation to the amount of engineering required to make your park or your pool.

Presented to the public as a handful of gauzy renderings (no plans or sections) intended to dazzle, Pier55 combines elements of Heatherwick's Garden Bridge for London and his Al Fayah desert park for Abu Dhabi, as well as earlier investigations into crinkled surfaces and terraforms, landscape as a designer crust. It worked on most: Lisa W. Foderaro's New York Times play-by-play on the island is peppered with unsophisticated, reaction quotes from a variety of highly-placed officials who knew this park was in the pipeline years before the rest of us. "It was very cool looking," says Diana Taylor, chairwoman of the Hudson River Park Trust's board of directors. "It showed the amount of work he put into it—his imagination," says Madelyn Wils, the trust's president. "This is New York City, and what's important in New York is glamour," says Tobi Bergman, chairman of Community Board 2.

But great cities are not made through gold stars awarded for imagination. The last thing the West Side of Manhattan needs is another financially unsustainable, high-maintenance, passive recreation space. (And besides, Heatherwick and Nelson Byrd Woltz are already designing such a space at Hudson Yards.) The last thing the Parks Department needs is another expensive, limited-use bauble, one that costs the same amount to build as the city is currently investing in 35 community parks. Yes, the Diller-Von Furstenberg Foundation has pledged to take care of its operating costs for 20 years, but that means the whole thing will be outdated, stylistically and technologically, once it becomes part of the Parks Department portfolio. Gadgets are not for the ages, and good design would take that into account from the get-go.

Building on piers is also the most expensive way to make a park: just ask Wils, who originally approached Diller asking for a donation to fix the pilings of long-closed Pier 54. (Pier 40, further north in Hudson River Park, also requires $104 million to fix its concrete pilings.) Their discussions morphed from him helping the trust with an existing but unglamorous infrastructure problem, to him adding a new pier to their portfolio. A pier, like the High Line (to which the couple donated $35 million), that is an extremely elaborate machine for sitting and strolling and looking. It's a square, but Heatherwick's design turns it into a series of paths and stairs.

More disturbing than Pier55's meme-tecture, however, has been the minimal public process. Who are Diller and Von Furstenberg to set priorities for the Hudson River Park or indeed, for open space in New York City? Why are we, the public, so often the audience and not the client? Why can't we set the agenda?

The problems with this kind of gifts have been enumerated, in far more vigorous language than we typically use in the American design press, in the debate about London's Garden Bridge, also designed by Heatherwick, also a thin layer of vegetation over a lot of engineering, also a "gift" that turns out to come at public cost. Like the Garden Bridge, Pier55 could be closed frequently (up to 5 times a month) for performances; like the Garden Bridge, Pier55 has only two routes on and off the island, and could become overcrowded or require "queues."

Only during the six-day public review process after Pier55 was announced in November was the lack of accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers of some of its scenic lookouts addressed. It wasn't too late, but it was definitely belated, given the fact that Diller had a design for the pier in 2012. Many good, critical questions were asked during that review, focusing on access and closure for private events, the closed-door planning process and the still-significant public investment of $35 million to make this project a reality.

The upshot of that limited process was more precise language about how often the park could be closed for events, and a reduction in the height of its peak from 71 feet to 62 feet. The specificity of that tweak seemed an indication of how far along this design really is: despite the fact that the public has only seen renderings, this is not an idea but something close to the actual design. Also: where are the bathrooms? The trash cans? The seating for those food vendors? Where would trucks for the performances load in and performers shelter?

The High Line has struggled since its inception to appeal to and attract neighborhood residents looking for more open space and more play options, so it seems bizarre to build more. At the hearing, the argument seemed to be that events specific to the community would be part of the programming (in the hands, at least for now, of Scott Rudin, George C. Wolfe, Stephen Daldry, and Kate Horton). It would be better if the landscape itself held some local appeal. On the flip side, why would anyone planning events want to be far from the subway, no parking, and only two entrances and exits?

Hudson River Park, like Brooklyn Bridge Park, was supposed to be self-sustaining, generating funds for its upkeep through real estate deals and concessions. From the beginning there have been questions about this model. It sounds good, but it privileges sites where adjacent real estate values are already high. And when parks can't support themselves after all, the city and the state basically have to step in. City Councilman Mark Levine, chair of the Park Committee, as well as advocacy groups like New Yorkers for Parks, have been pushing for more park funding in the city budget (currently at 0.55 percent). Such money would allow the parks department to maintain and plan for the parks we already have, rather than reacting to billionaires.

But we also need different strategies for channeling private money to public parks. Philanthropy doesn't have to be as grand, selective and secretive as recent donations suggest. I've written in the past about the idea of Neighborhood Parks Conservancies, which would allow people to give to the local, less glamorous parks they use every day. To prevent the rich park/poor park problem at a smaller scale, such conservancies could raise funds for sets of parks that are adjacent, but serve different populations, considering needs across the zone. The Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn already does this for Community District 1.

We also need to change the conversation around what is a sexy donation. It's not surprising, really, that Diller would rather pay for a gadget than for underwater repairs. But we know that small and medium parks, not-Manhattan parks, parks that are good for play can also be cool-looking, imaginative and even glamorous. Let's use narcissism for good. Any of the city's architecture nonprofits could, after consultation on what the city's real park priorities are, have a design competition for a particular park. If it is water that attracts dollars, there are plenty of other shores: Ridgewood Reservoir in Queens, reimagined as a wetlands shaped for exploration; Queensbridge Park remade to showcase its waterfront views, as with the anchorages further south on the East River; giving the residents of Greenpoint the park they were promised adjacent to Bushwick Inlet. Activists in the Bronx have been working to clean up and create access to the Bronx River for decades.

A couple of current projects point the way. The Design Trust for Public Space is currently working with the Parks Department and the Queens Museum on a community-based creative process for Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The New York Restoration Project's Haven Project, launched last fall, is looking at a series of underused open spaces in Mott Haven in the Bronx. The master plan that results from their work could easily have some spectacular moments, albeit spectacle aimed at getting the residents of Mott Haven outdoors and exercising, not watching performances. Or what about a new playground model -- an accessible, reasonably-priced, low-maintenance model –- that would be more challenging and use a more varied materials palette and could be deployed across the city? Some of these younger billionaires have children, and must understand the existential dullness of the off-the-shelf playground. What's sexier today than scalability? If meme-tecture teaches us anything, it is that ego-buffering publicity rests as much on visuals as it does on location. We, the public, should be the clients for cool design that serves our needs now and in the future. Don't try to give us a present that's just going to break.

yankeesfan1000 May 25, 2015 6:21 PM

This is in prep.

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