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PHOTOS: Pier55 Renderings Reveal Hills for Sunbathing and Sledding

 New renderings for Pier55 show a more detailed vision of the park, with plantings, pavings and seating.
New Pier55 Renderings
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MEATPACKING DISTRICT — New renderings of Pier55 reveal sprawling lawns that will make the new island park a destination for sunbathing and sledding, according to the architect for the project.

Preliminary designs for the $130 million pier — which has earned the nickname Diller Island from critics in honor of its financial backer, Barry Diller — were presented to Community Board 2's parks and waterfront committee on Wednesday night. They depicted lawns covering 18 to 22 percent of the planned 2.7 acre park.

The grassy spaces are meant to appeal to sunbathers, although there will also be plenty of shade from the trees that will be planted along the perimeter of the park, said Signe Nielsen, the architect.

"You'll have the perfect angle to bake in the Western sun here," she said. 

Nielsen pointed out that the hilly lawns, when covered in snow during winter, could also work as a spot for sledding.

"Because of the topography, there are some areas that are protected from the wind," Nielsen said.

But Coral Dawson, a committee member and a mother of a young child, questioned the feasibility of using the park for sledding. She pointed out that grass generally needs to be left unbothered over the winter in order to grow back in spring and summer.

"There's nowhere in lower Manhattan to sled," Dawson said. "You're going to have a massive amount of people coming."

Nielsen acknowledged that "lawns have to rest," and said a final decision on sledding has not yet been made.

Construction of the new pier is expected to begin next May. Work on the esplanade, which runs from Bloomfield Street to 14th Street and will lead up to the pier, will begin in July or August of this year, said Hudson River Park Trust CEO and president Madelyn Wils.

Cranes have already begun removing existing platforms at the site of the esplanade. The construction work taking place in the water will take about a year, she said.

The general plan for the park remains the same, including amenities like an amphitheater that can seat 700 visitors.

But the new renderings went into more detail about plantings, paving materials and seating. The highest elevation points of the park have also been scaled down slightly.

The design still has room for change, and needs to be approved by the Army Corps of Engineers.

"Everything is not in stone at this point, literally and figuratively," Wils said.

The plan for the pier was announced in November and approved by the Trust in February, after a contentious public review period.