Diane von Furstenberg and her husband Barry Diller have announced plans to build a $170 million park that would float over the Hudson River in New York City.

Diane von Furstenberg And Barry Diller To Fund ‘Floating Park’

Fashion icon, Diane von Furstenberg, said in a press release that she hopes the park will bring a bit of Venice to New York City: “New York has always reminded me of Venice, so I am happy the time has come to properly honor its waterways.”

Diller, former head of Paramount Pictures and Fox and current chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, announced plans for the ‘floating park’ on Monday and pledged $130 million – from a family foundation – to the project, suggesting that the remaining $39.5 million would be provided by the city, the Hudson River Park Trust and donors.  Dubbed the ‘floating park,’ the proposed park would be placed off of 14th Street where Pier 54 and Pier 56 currently stand. Pier 54, an old, unused and unsafe structure, has been slowly sinking into the Hudson, and the Hudson River Park Trust has no money to fix it, leaving the project available to private investors. Originally, Diller approached the Trust with an idea for a small, simple pier and trees, pledging $35 million to the project in 2012, but the project quickly spiraled.

Floating Park To Be Designed By Thomas Heatherwick

Diller enlisted British architect Thomas Heatherwick to design the park, which includes a large performance space capable of seating 1,000, with room for 2,5000 on a lawn, and other smaller stages, as well as little nooks and paths. “I have always loved public spaces. It’s entirely my fault that this has become so ambitious. We will fail in our ambition, outsized or whatever it may be, if this doesn’t feel completely like a park and completely like a performance space,” Diller said.   A large square pier would provide the base of the 2.7-acre park and The New York Times reports that it “would sit atop 300 mushroom-shaped concrete columns that are to range in height from 70 feet above the water to 15 feet above, roughly the minimum required post-Hurricane Sandy.”  

Designed specifically to meet the environmental needs of the Hudson, the park already has the support of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “If someone offers us a lot of resources to create something we need and with minimal investment by the city, I think that’s great,” Mayor de Blasio told reporters.

The park sounds like a done deal, but not everyone is overjoyed at the prospect of a new ‘floating park’ paid for almost completely by Diller. “The public has to be part of this process,” insisted President of NYC Parks Advocate Geoffrey Croft.

Croft told reporters that the entire negotiating and planning was done in secret, and he worries about public land being in the hands of a private investor. However, supporters of the proposed park say that the park will not be privately owned, but that Diller’s financial contributions are simply a donation. “It’s going to be fully open to the public, and, look, I know a good deal when I see one,” Mayor de Blasio added.

Should the park gain approval by the Army Corp of Engineers and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, construction could begin in 2016.