Image Credit: Liz Ligon

Little Island, New York City’s award-winning public park in Hudson River Park by W. 13th Street, announced today that they have received a 2023 Urban Land Institute Americas Award for Excellence in Urban Open Space. Little Island is one of ten projects from across North America selected this year and now advances to the Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence, competing against projects from the Europe and Asia Pacific regions.

“I’m so glad that in addition to making so many people happy when they come to Little Island, we are getting an award for excellence by the Urban Land Institute. It is a very special honor,” said Barry Diller, Founder, Little Island.

“Beyond being a jaw-dropping engineering achievement and stunning landscape, Little Island is also an extraordinary public-private partnership – a once-in-a-lifetime philanthropic contribution from Barry Diller and The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation for the public’s benefit,” said Noreen Doyle, President & CEO of the Hudson River Park Trust. 

“Through our partnership, the Hudson River Park Trust achieved its goal of delivering new public open space at one of the piers long planned to be rebuilt, but in a way that no one could have conceived of when the Park was being planned. Congratulations to Mr. Diller and The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, to every member of the engineering, design, planning and construction teams, and to the Little Island and Hudson River Park Trust staff members who pooled their talents for the public good. Thank you to the Urban Land Institute for recognizing their achievements.”

“MNLA is deeply honored to be part of the incredible team that designed and now stewards Little Island,” said Signe Nielsen, RLA, FASLA, MNLA. “Our collaboration with Heatherwick Studio and so many other talented designers was a joy from beginning to end. I believe our teamwork is manifested throughout the park in the seamless integration of landscape, architecture and engineering. Little Island is a sublime gift for all visitors to experience the fusion of art, nature and culture.”

“Me and my team are thrilled to receive this award,” Thomas Heatherwick, Heatherwick Studio. “It’s always easier for projects not to happen than to actually go forward to completion. This project began as a request to create a pavilion on an existing design for a new piece of pier on the edge of Manhattan’s West Side Highway. But instead, we proposed not building any pavilion at all and making the pier itself more special. The chances of that becoming a reality felt minuscule. However, an amazing group of people drove the project forward and gave the precious chance to invent a new kind of free public place for New Yorkers, full of nature and performance.”

In 2013, The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, in partnership with Hudson River Park Trust leadership, embarked on the unique opportunity to envision a solution for the repair and reactivation of Pier 54, which had been recently damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation conceived an entirely new type of public space for New York, one that would create an immersive experience with nature and art. In collaboration with Hudson River Park Trust, Heatherwick Studio and MNLA were chosen to realize this vision. The two firms combined architectural innovation with a captivating landscape to provide visitors with an oasis from urban life where they could play, relax, imagine and restore.

Little Island brought together a robust collaboration of local fabricators and contractors, who helped to make the park vision a reality. A team of engineers, artisans and tradespeople drawing from almost exclusively New York State-based companies worked together to transform the park from design concept to physical reality—making Little Island a true New York story. The team included ARUP, BrightView, C&G Partners, Charcoalblue, Coastal Precast Systems, Fab3, Fisher Marantz, Fort Miller, Gardiner & Theobald, Hunter Roberts Construction Group, Mueser Rutledge, Scott System, SITU, Standard Architects, Trevcon Marine, Weeks Marine, David Zinn, Project Executive Celine Armstrong and Project Manager Olivia Arnow. Former Trust President & CEO Madelyn Wils, Senior Vice President of Design & Construction Kevin Quinn and former Chief Engineer of the Trust Steve Ferker, and others from the Hudson River Park Trust worked closely with The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, the designers, engineers and others from the team throughout the project, from design team selection to engineering and construction.

Little Island opened on May 21, 2021 and since opening Little Island has welcomed over 3.5 million visitors and hosted over 572 free performances and 245 arts workshops. They partner with Union Square Events to offer visitors a menu of grab and go items to enhance their park and performance experience. Little Island continues to benefit from the generosity and commitment of The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation and to serve the community as a much-loved pier within the broader public park.

About Little Island

Little Island is an award-winning public park, primarily funded by The Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, in Hudson River Park. The park features a lush, seasonal, landscape with rolling hills, walking paths and open lawns, a range of performance spaces and dazzling views of New York City. Little Island is one of the latest additions to the four-mile- long Hudson River Park, which runs from Chambers Street to W. 59th Street.

About the Hudson River Park Trust

The Hudson River Park Trust is a partnership between New York State and City charged with the design, construction, and operation of the four-mile Hudson River Park, which currently attracts more than 17 million visits annually. Both the Trust and the park itself are governed by the Hudson River Park Act, a 1998 law that established the park and its requirements. Guided by a vision for a magnificent waterfront park, the Trust continues to advance park construction and ensure the park’s future financial self-sufficiency.

Twitter & Instagram @LittleIslandNYC

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