Design Little Island, the island park inaugurated in New York

Little Island, the island park inaugurated in New York

Giulia Guido

After more than a year of restrictions, over the last few weeks New Yorkers have slowly begun to reclaim the spaces in the city which for months we have seen empty in photos bordering on the surreal. Now, however, thanks to Studio Heatherwick, citizens have a new space where they can spend their afternoons and relax surrounded by nature. 
Inaugurated on Friday 21 May – and thus becoming one of the symbols of the recovery – Little Island is the beautiful island park built on the Hudson River, on the west side of Manhattan, which has already become a favourite destination for the inhabitants of the Big Apple.

Little Island

Although the park has only just opened, the initial project dates back to 2013, when Barry Diller and his wife Diane von Fürstenberg – through their company The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation (DVFFF), in collaboration with the management of the Hudson River Park Trust – proposed a plan to repair Pier 54, recently destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. The business couple immediately turned to Thomas Heatherwick’s Heatherwick Studio, one of the world’s leading designers.
For many years, then, the project was stopped again and again due to legal issues, but in December 2018, finally, work started. 

For the Little Island, the architects were inspired by the piles of the old piers that remain visible, but with nothing left to support them. Studio Heatherwick came up with the idea of a structure consisting of 280 concrete piles protruding from the water and supporting 132 tulip-shaped structures.
These two elements made it possible to play with the dimensions and create a structure on several levels which served to reproduce a sinuous and as natural as possible landscape. 

On Little Island it feels like being in a real park and this is possible thanks to the work of the New York studio MNLA, led by Signe Nielsen, who took care of the entire landscape design.
The park is home to 35 species of trees, 65 species of shrubs and 270 varieties of grasses, perennials, vines and bulbs chosen to create an environment that changes with the seasons. There are also walking paths, benches where you can stop and look at the Manhattan skyline and even a 687-seat amphitheatre that can host events and live shows. 

Read also: “The Cove”, a new pier for San Francisco

Open from six in the morning until one in the morning, Little Island is the new must-see destination for anyone visiting New York. 

Written by Giulia Guido
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