Future of Heatherwick's NYC Pier Uncertain

John Hill
24. March 2017
Image: Pier55/Heatherwick Studio

A federal court has vacated the permit for the $200 million Pier 55, designed by Thomas Heatherwick for a site in the Hudson River, leading The Architect's Newspaper to report that "Heatherwick’s pier on the Hudson is a no-go."

The public-private project was announced in November 2014 by the Hudson River Park Trust and the Diller – Von Furstenberg Family Foundation Alliance, the latter acting as the primary funder for the park. The initial design propped the artificial, 2.4-acre landscape with three performance venues upon 300 mushroom-cap columns that would rise from the Hudson River. 

Opposition to the project has focused on, among other things, its impact to marine life in the Hudson River estuary, which stretches along the shoreline and overlaps with the proposed pier. According to the New York Times, "Judge Lorna G. Schofield of United States District Court ... scuttled the project’s permit and ordered a review of alternatives to building in a maritime sanctuary for the preservation of fish and wildlife." The Army Corps of Engineers had issued the permit, but the judge ruled that they "had improperly failed to consider the project site a protected fish and wildlife sanctuary when it issued the permit."

The most vocal opponent of Pier 55 has been the City Club of New York, whose previous lawsuits against the project were dismissed. With the most recent ruling they contend that "it [is] virtually impossible for Pier 55 to proceed," according to their lawyer. A statement from the Hudson River Trust after the ruling stated, "We have won four challenges in four courts and are deeply disappointed by this decision. We are reviewing the ruling to determine next steps."

Image: Pier55/Heatherwick Studio

In more promising news for Heatherwick, a recent visit to the High Line revealed prefabricated stairs in a staging area alongside the Hudson Yards; these are part of his Vessel, which will be centerpiece of the Hudson Yards development now under construction.

Left: Photo by John Hill/World-Architects; right: Image courtesy of Forbes Massie/Heatherwick Studio

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