By George Capsis
In February of 2015, WestView’s Architecture Editor, Brian J. Pape, signaled the arbitrary complexity and prohibitive cost of casting 300 reinforced concrete mushroom-shaped forms on which the tilted and undulating 2.7-acre Diller Island would rest. Today, January 31, 2017, we learned that construction has stopped, as contractors walked away from even attempting a bid “which could lead to runaway construction costs.”
To save the effort, the Hudson River Park Trust has filed a new plan with fewer mushroom piles and a reduced height, causing The Architect’s Newspaper to comment that the new design “may not…appear quite like the stunning first renderings.”
Two years ago, WestView estimated that one mushroom-shaped pile could cost $137,000, or, $41 million for the then-needed 300 piles. This price tag could pay for bleacher seats along the 14-acre Pier 40 playing field and even for the seating at Diller concerts. That way, we taxpayers would not have to spend $40 million to build a bridge to Diller Island.
But Diller Island never made sense. You simply can’t implement a back-of-the-napkin design of a fried egg being propped up by 300 mushrooms, sprinkled with trees and grass, and tilted on an axis just so that Diller’s guests might see what $300 million and no taste can buy.
This week, we learned that his $300 million should be used to build a hospital on Pier 40.