A part of Chelsea Piers that saw historic ocean liners RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania sail out of New York, as well as the arrival of The Titanic’s survivors aboard The Carpathia in 1912, is finally ready to begin its new life. Cunard’s former Pier 54 is now being transformed into an iconic floating park above the Hudson River called Pier 55, designed by Thomas Heatherwick.
It is set to revitalize a section of the waterfront that has been left abandoned for decades. Now, construction and installation of the 425 piles has commenced with vigor. Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) will manage the new park. The landscaping will be done by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, P.C.
Since its inception, the 2.7 acre project has been met with a stir of controversy due to a number of reasons. Funding from the state of New York has been problematic, construction delays and engineering challenges with the US Army Corps of Engineering have added to the drama, as have claims that work overlooked effects on marine wildlife, as alleged by the City Club of New York. The cost has ballooned from $35 million when first announced to $250 million today.
Pier 55 was nearly scrapped last September, but was revived a month later thanks to a deal between Governor Cuomo and media mogul and philanthropist Barry Diller, the founder of The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, who already donated $113 million towards the project. The rescue came within the scope of agreeing to completion of Hudson River Park from Battery Park City to 59th Street.
There will be two accessible path that go over the water and connect the park, which sits 186 feet beyond the edge of Manhattan. The hollow arched steel structure of the Cunard building, which is still standing, will be preserved as the gateway of one of the leading paths to Pier 55. The piles vary in height above the water and will sit below the bowl-shaped pier car that creates the projects signature design, similar to Heatherwick’s “1000 Trees” project in Shanghai, China.
The varying heights of the pier caps create a series of landscaped hills, and slopes that form seating for an amphitheater facing west towards New Jersey and afternoon light. The hills will be wrapped with winding paths and two open patches of grass that will sit atop each apex. Construction will temporarily halt during the cold winter months and resume in the spring. The project will sit directly across from the Standard Hotel and 40 Tenth Avenue, aka the Solar Carve Tower currently under construction.
Completion of Pier 55 is expected in 2020.