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New York (USA): Little Island park on the Hudson River – Sports & Facilities

The small island is a new one A public park with an area of ​​11,000 square meters Which includes three outdoor theaters on the Hudson River. Designed as a haven for people and wildlife, it is a green oasis, propped up above the water by sculptors, and accessed in a few steps via a boardwalk from Manhattan’s Lower West Side; It is the first park to open in the city since the start of the pandemic.
Funded by The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, which will also take care of its maintenance for the next 20 years, Little Island opened at a time when New York was preparing for the summer season and after more than a year of restrictions, adding spaces for citizens and tourists alike to River Park Famous on the Hudson River.

Project Origin

Heatherwick Studio was initially invited by philanthropist Barry Diller and the Hudson River Park Trust to create a pavilion for a new pier in southwest Manhattan. Rather than design a decorative object to be placed in Hudson River Park, the design team saw an opportunity to rethink what a sidewalk would be. The starting point was not the structure, but the experience for visitors: the thrill of being on the water, the feeling Leave the city behind And to be surrounded by greenery, inspired by Central Park, where you can forget that you are in the middle of the most densely populated city in the United States.

The berths were traditionally flat to allow boats to moor. In contrast to the flat streets of Manhattan, the design team wanted to create a new terrain for the city that could rise to form a variety of spaces. The first iteration was a spiral sheet floating on water, its veins rising like ribs at the edges to protect the space from the wind. The idea to raise the garden on its foundations came from There are wooden poles In the water, the remains of several piers that once stretched from Manhattan Beach. Under the visible ends of the wood, the pedestals became Important habitat for marine life It is a protected breeding ground for fish.

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Originally, Little Island was to be built near the water: the design was modified after Hurricane Sandy, with a raised structure to reduce flood risk. The columns, of different heights, sink to a depth of a few meters to the river bed.
The designers envisioned the pier as a complete experience; a single and coherent object, not made up of separate elements; foundation piles extend to farmers that come together to create a garden deck. The height of the poles varies: one side is raised to allow sunlight to reach marine habitats, while the ocean slopes down to outline hills and views and to create a natural amphitheater intended for shows. In this way, the pontoon and its supporting structure are one.

Concrete lily

At the top of the towers, 132 concrete “tulips” form the garden’s structure: each shape is unique and has a different load-bearing capacity to support the ground and plants. The “planters”, which are 6 meters wide, consist of precast concrete sections off-site and are transported to the site by barges and assembled on site, thus minimizing the impact on the city.
“Farmers” are filled with more than 66000 onions and 114 trees, some exceeding 20 meters in height, plants of 400 different species encourage biodiversity and are able to thrive in the New York climate (each corner of the island represents a different microclimate depending on the terrain and exposure to sun and wind). To determine the shape of the vases, the design team looked at nature and ice mosaic which are formed around wooden poles when the river freezes: this is reinterpreted in a weaving pattern that appears organic, but uses repetitive elements that can be combined for manufacture. Care was taken to vary the angle and frequency of the vases on the perimeter, as they were more visible.

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Corridors and spaces

To emphasize the feeling of escape, the silhouette of the small island is located in the middle of the water between Piers 54 and 56. Access is via two easily accessible and directed “lanes”. In the direction of the urban network (Instead of aligning with the old sidewalks). Inside, paths wind through trees and grassy areas to reach hidden and unexpected views. Reclaiming the entertainment venue lost when Pier 54 fell into disrepair, the park integrates three performance spaces. On the far edge, sheltered by surrounding hills and trees, is an acoustically enhanced 687-seat amphitheater with natural stone benches; The stage is set against a stunning backdrop of sunset over the Hudson River and a view of the Statue of Liberty.

To the south is a more intimate stage, with 200 seats. In the center is a flexible venue accommodating large-scale events, whose flooring accentuates the mosaic-lined shape of the sturdy pedestals.
The theater needed backstage, but the design team didn’t want to interrupt the park with a building. The solution came through the structure: the upper columns transfer the load to the lower ones, allowing you to create a covered environment: above, a viewing platform is created, which allows Unique perspective of the pier and the river, by discreetly hiding service spaces.
With its unique mix of equipment and greenery, Little Island is a break from the rhythm of Manhattan; A place where New Yorkers and visitors can cross the river to lie under a tree, watch a show, enjoy sunsets, and feel connected to the water and the natural environment.

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Queenie Bell

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