Last month, Mayor De Blasio announced a push to fund green spaces in New York's poor neighbourhoods. This probably isn't exactly what he meant: very wealthy power couple Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg have announced plans to fund a giant park in the Hudson River.
Pier 55, as the proposed park is called, would sit on the current site of Pier 54, one of many crumbling remnants left over from New York's maritime heyday. Back then, Pier 54 was a critical hub of port activity in NYC: the Cunard-White Star Line was based there, and was the port from which the Lusitania sailed. It was also the port where Titanic survivors decamped after reaching New York. But over the past half century, Pier 54 slowly crumbled into ruins — all that's left now is the rusting steel facade and part of the pier.
Pier 55 would turn the rusty pier into a huge, glittering park funded by the IAC boss Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. It's tough to call this a park, exactly: It's more like an outdoor entertainment complex, with a 1000-seat amphitheatre and two other performance spaces, to be overseen by several prominent members of the theatre industry. The couple unveiled their plans yesterday in The New York Times, along with a concept design by the British architects at Heatherwick Studio — the same studio responsible for London's proposed park over the Thames.
Of course, the word "park" implies public space, and this definitely isn't a purely public project, although it will be public ally accessible: The NYT says Diller is putting up $US130 million of private cash for the project and agreed to pay for operations for 20 years. The city, meanwhile, will put up $US40 million.
The plan still has a ways to go: It has to go through a long approval process, and even though it's designed to allow sunlight to filter down into the river below it to feed the sanctuary-status ecosystem, it could pose major environmental challenges to the river itself.
But otherwise the fact that two wealthy civic figures want to pay for it will go a long, long way towards making it real. [The New York Times]