“Little Island” , reshaping New York’s coastline

In topic: Architecture

A new park on Hudson River resting on a forest of tulip-shaped concrete pillars. Little Island may had a rocky start but day by day it becomes the new landmark of New York.

A miniature green oasis, separate from the large island of Manhattan, Little Island intends to provide a serene retreat from the hectic everyday life in New York. The project started in 2013 when The Hudson River Park Trust and businessman Barry Diller appointed Heatherwick Studio to build a new pier on Manhattan’s southwest riverside.

A groundbreaking idea

Thomas Heatherwick came up with something more that just another concrete pier. The studio suggested creating a more engaging experience for New Yorkers, as they saw the opportunity to invent a new public space. They rethought what a “pier” could be. The starting point was the kind of experience they wanted visitors to have. They should feel like leaving the city behind and being immersed in a serene, green space. All of that over the water, which adds to the excitement. This was the beginning of Little Island.

A new, green city landmark

Two bridges connect Little Island to Manhattan. It consists of 132 precast concrete “planters” resembling the form of tulips. The final pattern is organic and rises in varying heights to form the contours of the park’s topography. 400 different species of trees and plants are on Little Island, all of them to be found all over Northern America. Visitors will find a network of paths that flow through group of trees, with each corner of the park possessing a unique topography. There are also three performance venues that can host up to 3,500 people.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 21: People visit the Little Island, a new floating park, on opening day at Hudson River Park on May 21, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Liao Pan/China News Service via Getty Images)

Little Island had a rocky start. In the beginning, skeptics saw an outrageously expensive project to build, which they argued would be even more expensive to maintain. Construction started in 2016 but has halted again in 2017 after legal lobbying from various campaign groups. It restarted in 2019 and in late spring 2021 it finally opened to the public.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 21: People watch sunset on the bridge at Little Island on opening day at Hudson River Park on May 21, 2021 in New York City. Little Island is a new floating park built on large concrete “tulips,” a $260 million dollar project. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced pandemic restrictions to be lifted on May 19. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
23 / 12 / 2021