In February, the futuristic Pier 55 floating park planned for the Meatpacking District moved forward with a lease deal between the Hudson River Park Trust and a nonprofit group controlled by Barry Diller, the billionaire media mogul who pledged $130 million back in November to fund the $151.8 million park. Diller is allocating the funds through the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation (his wife is fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg), but under the agreement he can pull his support if he feels renovations at neighboring piers aren’t up to par. And according to DNAinfo, the city’s backup plan in this event is quite underwhelming, completely scratching the floating island and creating a $30 million park similar to others along Hudson River Park.
Hudson River Park Trust
Last we heard about Pier55–the 2.4-acre futuristic floating park and performance space proposed by billionaire media mogul Barry Diller that would jut 186 feet into the Hudson at 13th Street–Community Board 2 had mixed feelings about the project. They liked Thomas Heatherwick’s design, but cited concern over the lack of transparency from Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust.
Despite these feelings, though, we’ve learned today from the Times that the Trust approved a lease agreement with Pier 55 Inc., a nonprofit group controlled by Diller, to help develop the $130 million public space. Diller has already pledged $113 million toward the project through the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation (his wife is fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg). So, what’s next?
It’s been relatively quiet over the past six weeks or so as far as news about the proposed offshore park and performance space in the Hudson River known as Pier55. But this week, Community Board 2’s Parks and Waterfront Committee reviewed the project, and though they liked Thomas Heatherwick’s design overall, they cited their main concern as transparency.
The board’s issue stems from the fact that billionaire media mogul Barry Diller, who committed $130 million to the 2.7-acre park, and the Hudson River Park Trust had been working secretively for two years on the plans. According to Curbed, committee member Arthur Schwartz said, “Probably the main public critique of this project has been the way that so much of the design was developed in infinite detail before it even became a matter of public knowledge.”
Last week, news broke that billionaire media mogul Barry Diller had been working with the Hudson River Park Trust for the past two years on an idea for an offshore park and performance space in the Hudson River. And though it seemed far-fetched at first, the fact that Diller had personally committed $130 million to the project and that detailed renderings had been created made it see much more plausible.
And now Thomas Heatherwick, the British designer behind the Pier 55 floating park, is opening up about how the decrepit West Side piers inspired his vision for the undulating, landscaped “aquatic High Line.”
Floating space in New York’s waterways is not a new concept. Take the +Pool, for example, the public pool proposed for the East River that was recently supported by Kanye West. But a new offshore park proposed for the Hudson River off 14th Street seems exceedingly ambitious, as it would cost $170 million, be located 186 feet off land, and contain wooded nooks and three performance venues including an amphitheater.
Barry Diller, sponsor-to-be of this ambitious plan, gives the project a much more realistic outlook. The billionaire chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, former head of Paramount Pictures and Fox–and husband to Diane von Furstenberg–was the single largest donor to the High Line. He’s pledged $130 million from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation to make the 2.7-acre park a realty, as well as agreed to run the outdoor space and cover operating expenses for 20 years. He and his wife have starchitect-designed offices in the Meatpacking District and are clearly becoming king and queen of the neighborhood.