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Astragal: Troubled waters for Heatherwick

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Creating gardens over rivers is proving problematic for Thomas Heatherwick

In April his proposal for a landscaped island park on stilts, hovering over New York’s Hudson River, was given what was thought to be its final permits.

Work was all set to start on the $130 million, 1ha project at Pier 55 when the New York State Appellate Division issued an injunction to give opponents more time to prepare their case against the scheme.

The injunction prevents construction until September – in practice possibly longer because piling will be harder in the winter months.

Chief objector is urban environmental campaign group, the City Club of New York, which is concerned about the island’s potential impact on the ‘estuarine sanctuary’. A previous objection by the club was thrown out by a Supreme Court judge.

How the AJ got it wrong over Garden Bridge

Gardenbridge credit arup

Gardenbridge credit arup

Regarding another troubled Heatherwick scheme, the AJ has a mea culpa to make. It seems we’ve been using a rather old and potentially misleading CGI of the Garden Bridge.

The image (above) is apparently a conceptual illustration commissioned from early 2013 which features large spans between the two pillars and the river banks on either side.

The real bridge, as revised illustrations (below) make clear, will actually rest on a northern pillar far closer to the Embankment. This, we’re led to believe, is down to a design change related to rules on giving river traffic adequate space.

Garden bridge  overview

Garden bridge overview

Diller Scofidio + Renfro undeterred by Aberdeen flop

Ss+r aberdeen

Ss+r aberdeen

Readers will remember New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro for its aborted Union Terrace Gardens scheme in Aberdeen – a contentious £140 million project known as the ‘Granite Web’ (pictured above) shelved in 2012.

But the experience doesn’t seem to have put off the architect from setting up a beachhead on these shores in the quest for more UK work, and it has started putting people on the ground in London.

It is understood the practice is already in talks for a chunk of Knight Dragon’s huge plans for the Greenwich Peninsula south of the O2 Arena.

The question is, will the practice have the stomach to try again for the recently re-tendered Aberdeen gardens job? Or will the significantly reduced budget of just £17 million dampen its enthusiasm.

RIBA Council says farewell to Luder

Owen Luder, former president of RIBA who has been re-elected to the RIBA council

Owen Luder, former president of RIBA who has been re-elected to the RIBA council

RIBA Council last week said goodbye to veteran council member Owen Luder. In his final council meeting the 87-year-old gave his advice to the rest of the room, saying: ‘I used to sit in the corner of the room but you can’t be seen by the president.’

Luder, who has maintained a seat right in the centre of the back row, said that was the spot to sit in if you ‘wanted to get your point heard and get noticed’.

It was also past-president Stephen Hodder’s final council meeting. Standing up to receive thanks, Hodder was heckled by two times-president Luder who shouted ‘you’re just a lad!’ suggesting the Manchester-based architect still has time for a return to the RIBA helm.

Alsop’s Cardiff Tube is up for sale

Cardiff bay visitor centre andy dolman

Cardiff bay visitor centre andy dolman

Ever fancied owning a cigarette lighter-shaped piece of Cardiff’s architectural history? Cardiff Council is sounding out market interest in the sale of Will Alsop’s cylindrical Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre.

The RIBA Award-winning building, known as the Tube, first opened in 1990 as an exhibition space for the Cardiff Bay development, was relocated nearby using a flatbed truck three years later, and finally packed down for good six years ago. It is currently in storage in Cardiff Docks.

The temporary £500,000 structure was intended to last only five years, so unsurprisingly the council is offering ‘no guarantee as to the condition or suitability of the Tube for re-use’. Interested parties may arrange a viewing; the deadline for offers is 20 July.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • It would be good to see Brisac Gonzales - winner of the first competition for Union Terrace Gardens - and who suffered the same shameful fate as Zaha Hadid at Cardiff - being asked to go ahead with their original design, but the client is presumably opposed to that.
    And perhaps these gifted architects now have enough work with decent clients that they really don't need a commission in Aberdeen.

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