Two Major Heatherwick Projects Nixed in New York and London
While construction of the monumental Thomas Heatherwick–designed pavilion Vessel in New York’s Hudson Yards began in April, plans for two of the British designer’s highly publicized projects—Pier 55, a Manhattan event venue and park space on the Hudson River, and the Garden Bridge, a verdant pedestrian walkway over the Thames in London—have come to a halt.
In late March, a United States District Court judge ordered to vacate the building permit for the $200 million Pier 55 project, which is funded largely by media mogul Barry Diller and his wife, Diane Von Furstenberg. The ruling was in favor of the City Club of New York, an urban land-use advocacy group opposed to the project for its potential negative impact on wildlife in and around the river, a dedicated estuarine sanctuary. “It’s rather heartwarming that, after all the work we have done, a judge has seen the light,” says City Club president Michael Gruen. “Hopefully, the project is either moved to land or scaled down significantly.”
And in April, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, made clear that he would not sign off on the provision of funds needed for the $225 million Garden Bridge to move forward. In a letter to the chair of the Garden Bridge Trust, Khan cited the project’s increased reliance on public money due to the Trust’s “lack of progress” in private fundraising as the main reason for his decision. Members of the architecture community in the UK also objected to the lack of transparency in the process to procure Heatherwick, who won a competition to design the project. As reported by The Architect’s Journal, Heatherwick met with former mayor Boris Johnson about the project before the contest was launched in 2013.
Heatherwick Studio declined to comment.