pier 55 birds eye Image: Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio

With sea levels and urban populations on the rise, city planners are looking towards the coast for solutions. Earlier this week, IAC chairman Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg announced their plans to fund the construction of a 2.7 acre floating park along the New York City waterfront.

The project will cost an estimated $170 million dollars to complete — 75 per cent of which will be funded by The Diller – von Furstenberg Family Foundation, the largest donation to a public park in the city’s history. The rest will be paid for by the city, state and Hudson River Park Trust.

The park will be known as Pier 55, as it will sit atop Pier 54 — an unkempt, former shipping dock. Pier 55 will lie 186 feet from the shoreline and will be connected by two pedestrian bridges.

07_View of Southern space looking north from Gansevoort Pen.jpg Image: Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio

Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studio will design the park, having been hand-picked by Diller and von Furstenberg from an architectural competition. Heatherwick’s other projects include the 2012 Olympic cauldron and the planned pedestrian Garden Bridge in London.

The park will be supported by 300 concrete columns that rise 15 to 70 feet above the water. This will give the terrain a gradual slope to safeguard it against extreme weather. The design will include a 700-seat amphitheatre, walking paths and ample green space for the public to enjoy.

pier 55 amphitheater Image: Pier55, Inc./Heatherwick Studio

Critics of Pier 55 say it will take away funding from park renewal projects in less affluent neighborhoods. The floating park will be located on Manhattan’s lower west side, known for its upscale restaurants and boutique shopping.

Plans haven’t been fully approved, but construction on Pier 55 could begin as soon as 2016 with a public opening in 2019. If it comes into being, we’re betting it’ll give the High Line a run for its money.

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