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Barry Diller-Funded Pier 55 Plan: Pocket Gadget, Meme-tecture, or Something More Nefarious?

Pier 55 is a gadget. Pocket-size, stuffed with event spaces and paths to point you at the view, it will dangle off the southwestern edge of Manhattan like a Leatherman on a wallet chain. There's a scenic overlook, a 200-seat amphitheater, a tunnel designed to give you an eyeful of designer Thomas Heatherwick's signature mushroom piers, varied in height, holding up the molded surface of dirt, concrete and grass. Underneath the lawn, the plaza, and the pre-ruined staircases must be a theaters-worth of lights, wiring, speakers, electronics veiled in a skim-coat of plant life. As a design, Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg's "$113 million dollar "gift" to New York City, is the culmination of two forces: private funding for public parks, with the High Line as reference point for elaborated outdoor urbanism, and architecture as online popularity contest, where good publicity is in direct relation to the amount of engineering required to make your park or your pool.

Cutting through the hype >>