Little Island

Following a design competition the Hudson River Park Trust and businessman and philanthropist Barry Diller appointed Heatherwick Studio to build a new pier on Manhattan’s southwest riverside. The pier needed to be both a public park and a world class outdoor performance space. Interested in the hundreds of old wooden piles which stuck out of the Hudson River as the structural remains of the old piers that had previously existed, the studio wondered if the identity of the new pier could come from focusing on its structural piers. The idea evolved to take the new concrete piles that would be needed and to continue them out of the water, extending skyward to raise up sections of a green landscape. Fusing as they meet, these individual piles come together to form the topography of the park. Raising the new piece of park up into the air could not only counteract the windswept quality of the big adjacent road but also work well with the need for outdoor theatre and performance spaces, as raked seating could be shaped into the landscape to give the audience better views. The resulting design developed as a system of repeating piles which each form a generous planter at their top. Every planter then connects in a tessellating pattern at different heights to create a single manipulated piece of landscape. More than a hundred different species of indigenous trees and plants suited to the harsh extremes of New York climate will be planted within the thousands of tonnes of new soil of this landscape. The result is a unique topography that can be experienced as you walk underneath to enter, as well as from above as the 280 piles rise up out of the water. As well as being a beautifully landscaped public park, the new pier will be a hardworking object that contains an outdoor theatre for over 700 people, a smaller performance space for 200, a main space for 3,500 and many pathways and viewing platforms.


Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) & Pier 55 Project Fund (P55P)


New York, US




Completed 2021



Group Leader

Mat Cash

Project Leader

Paul Westwood, Neil Hubbard

Studio team

Sofia Amodio, Simona Auteri, Jordan Bailiff, Einar Blixhavn, Mark Burrows, Mat Cash, Darragh Casey, Jorge Xavier Méndez-Cáceres, John Cruwys, Antoine van Erp, Alex Flood, Michal Gryko, Hayley Henry, Ben Holmes, Ben Jacobs, Stepan Martinovsky, Simon Ng, Wojtek Nowak, Hannah Parker, Giovanni Parodi, Luke Plumbley, Jeff Powers, Enrique Pujana, Akari Takebayashi, Ondrej Tichý, Ahira Sanjeet, Charles Wu, Meera Yadave


Arup, Charcoal Blue, Steven Daldry, Scott Rudin, Kate Horton, MNLA, Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers, Hunter Roberts Construction Group