The island park in New Yor is already a reality

It's not a bridge, it's not a building, it's not a conventional park, it's not a vegetable cruise… It's Little Island! A garden on an artificial island in the Big Apple!

It’s not a bridge, it’s not a building, it’s not a conventional park, it’s not a vegetable cruise… It’s Little Island! A garden on an artificial island in the Big Apple!

Doesn’t it happen to you that sometimes you feel the urgent need to be surrounded by nature? And, on other occasions, that need is oriented towards contact, at least visually, with a large body of water? This feeling has a name: Biophilia. It is about the materialization of our most primitive sense of survival, the one that reminds us that the connection with the natural environment is what keeps us alive.

Little Island
Little Island is a park on the sea that we find in New York

Obviously, this connection is not the same for everyone, but it is another link. For this reason, in large cities, this connection becomes an urgent physical need. In 2014, artist Thomas Heatherwick envisioned a unique park that would float on New York’s Hudson River. A park on huge stilts that they named Pier 55, a name that they would later change to Little Island.

Little Island
The park is supported by concrete pillars and is located on Pier 54 and Pier 56.

New York’s Little Island/Floating Park

This May, what is perhaps the most unique park in the Big Apple has been inaugurated. It is a space that connects us with our natural self in a different way than we are used to. This spectacular island has cost 260 million dollars, 213 million euros, although at first it had been calculated that the cost would reach 130 million dollars. Anyway, logistics stuff.

Little Island
Little Island can be accessed via two bridges

The construction of the park was financed, for the most part, by the owner of Pier 54 and Pier 56, where this marvel stands, businessman Barry Diller. He is credited with a fortune of 3,700 million dollars, so, we assume, this work has not been a problem for him. Work on the park began in 2016, and although it was intended to be finished in 2019, problems with the North American administrations delayed the inauguration until 2021.

Little Island
In total, 267 piles support the entire park and can support up to 350 tons each.

New York’s Little Island stands on 267 concrete piles

The park in total covers about 10,000 square meters, and can be accessed by two bridges at the ends. The author of this work, the designer Heatherwick, affirms that reaching the island via these bridges is a way of leaving New York behind and entering an oasis. The island is supported by some 267 concrete piles, driven into the seabed up to 61 meters deep, which are prepared to support up to 350 tons each.

Little Island
132 stilts are placed at different heights, giving shape to the park

Of them, 132 stilts protrude supporting a huge petal-shaped planter, at different heights, which allows the park to obtain a varied topography, modifying the original idea of the promoters and adding an unexpected value to the whole. Of course, the park is divided into several zones. They include three spaces for different cultural shows, one of them an amphitheater with 700 wooden seats.

Little Island
In total, the park has an area of 10,000 square meters in which an amphitheater with a capacity of 700 people stands out.

A huge green space and areas for cultural performances

On the other hand, the rest of the park has more than 540 meters of trails that cross the garden, showing us viewpoints and other places to rest our senses. In addition, the promoters have already applied for a license to be able to sell alcohol, with the hope of becoming a nightclub.

Little Island
It also has 540 meters of trails for walking and exercising.

The end result of New York’s Little Island is also thanks to MNLA, the specialized landscape design company responsible for what your eyes see. They tell us on their website that the elevated corners of the pier create different microclimates, in which they have planted 35 species of trees, 65 species of shrubs, and 290 varieties of grasses, perennials, vines, and bulbs. The choice of these species has been based not only on the microclimates, but also on their power of attraction for birds and pollinators.

Little Island
Developers are working to open a nightclub and be able to sell alcohol in the park

The flower pots of Little Island, an engineering work on New York

On the other hand, the company specialized in engineering Arup participated in the entire development of the project and its execution, with a key contribution. And it is that Arup engineers devised a state-of-the-art 3D design that helped in the prefabrication of many parts of the construction, such as the concrete planters, which were manufactured by the Fort Miller Company, and brought to the site by boat.

Little Island
The park has 35 species of trees, 65 species of shrubs and 290 varieties of grasses that it has

The planters, some up to six meters wide, offered a special complication as they were executed with 39 different forms of formwork. To do this, the Fort Miller company enlisted the help of steel fabricator FAB3 and foam form maker Scott System. You know, unity is strength. The result is a concrete and steel structure that connects all the planters, uniting the whole.

Little Island
Entrance to the park is free, but reservations must be made to control capacity

Great cultural offer and without danger of falling into the sea

If after viewing the images you wonder if there is a danger of falling into the sea, obviously the answer is yes, there is always danger, especially if the intention is to look for it. The promoters, aware of this fact, have taken some precautions in this regard. They have spent about six million dollars, almost five euros, on a perimeter security system, in addition to having 24-hour security in the park.

Little Island
The park has an advanced system to prevent falls into the water and 24-hour surveillance

If you feel like going, you should know that the entrance to the island is free, although you have to book in advance, to avoid crowds and maintain exquisite control in the face of the pandemic that we are still suffering. As neighbors, the construction has nothing more and nothing less than the Whitney Museum, and the Meatpacking District of Manhattan, completing a cultural and leisure offer that, without a doubt, will delight users, merchants and neighbors.

Photographs by Timothy Schenck.

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