New York’s Little Island includes message on Garden Bridge over River Thames | Rowan moore
LIttle Island, a garden built over the Hudson River designed by British designer Thomas Heatherwick and landscape architect Signe Nielsen, has garnered good reviews. “It’s a spellbinding place and totally New Yorker,” says design website Curbed, with “sweeping views… even the bathrooms are a surprise, nestled under a hill and shining like a buried treasure in their own. cave”. As London passed up the opportunity to have its own Heatherwickian plant project on the water, the never-before-built garden bridge, Little Island asks a question: Did the Thames miss a turn or dodge a ball ?
There is a dissenting note, voiced by Henry Grabar on Slate. He points out that Little Island is very small and incredibly expensive: 2.4 acres and $ 250 million, plus several million more in running costs, or over $ 100 million per acre, if you will. There are less glamorous parks all over New York City that are literally dying for lack of a fraction of that funding. The pressure of numbers means that, for now at least, you need to book admission tickets for Little Island afternoon tours, which seems at odds with the laid-back, cheerful spirit you expect from a park. . The tab is taken over entirely by media mogul Barry Diller, so the island is defended by some on the basis that it’s a free giveaway, so everyone should be thankful. At the Garden Bridge, no Diller-like donor has ever stepped forward and it was the growing expenses of the project that ultimately did. He also reportedly experienced the same crowd conflict against Eden that is likely to persist on Little Island.
The art of giving
Another novelty of plutocratic trinkets, the historic Paris Bourse has been converted to house the art collection of luxury magnate François Pinault, its elliptical center now dominated by a grandiose concrete wall by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. You could say these trophies are part of the rich tapestry of life, but you want an old-fashioned billionaire philanthropist like Scottish-American steel mogul Andrew Carnegie, who has also managed to fund thousands of libraries. and university buildings. only prestigious projects like its concert hall.
Auckland in New Zealand was named the most ‘livable’ city in the world, bolstered by the country’s Covid record, alongside five other Australasian metropolises in the top 10. Not killing people through mismanagement of viruses is certainly a good definition of ‘livable’, but as always with such surveys, their criteria don’t seem to include the things that really make a city great: energy, excitement, a certain unique spirit. They prefer quiet and tidy places like Auckland.
The New Yorks of Andy Warhol, the Harlem Renaissance or the Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec would not have done well in their ranking.
In one of many half-baked town planning policies, the government wants to introduce a ‘fast lane to beauty’ where developers get building permits faster if their proposals conform to pre-agreed principles of aesthetic desirability. . In practice, it probably means some sort of Georgian Revival style. Now, a committee of deputies has decided that, “given the problems of defining beauty,” the idea is unworkable.
There is the seed of a good idea in the notion of simplifying obscure planning procedures, but the problem is surely evident in the name – how often, in art, nature, or life, beauty occurs – there as a result of an “acceleration”? Not very often.