Arts and Culture 

The cost of 'public' space

Thomas Heatherwick in New York

 The cost of 'public' space
Arts and Culture 

The cost of 'public' space

Thomas Heatherwick in New York

Patrick Templeton 
16/02/2022


The spectacle is capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image. (Guy Debord)

As designer Thomas Heatherwick’s second privately commissioned folly opened in New York City in the summer of 2021, his first closed. The city’s newest green spectacle, Little Island is an artificial landscape built on the site of the historic Pier 54 in the Hudson River, standing on 132 tulip-shaped concrete piles. The pier, where survivors of the Titanic disembarked and from which the Lusitania departed on its final voyage, was a haven for the LGBTQ community in Chelsea beginning in the 1970s, but it fell into disuse after being severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Originally tasked by media mogul Barry Diller to design a pavilion to rejuvenate the derelict pier, Heatherwick – dubbed the “billionaire whisperer” by The New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman – convinced Diller to instead replace it with an entirely new type of public space that would be an “immersive experience with nature and art.” The cost subsequently doubled from $130 to $260 million, with Diller committing another $120 million for maintenance over the next twenty years...[+]


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