For Architectural Digest, by Nick Mafi.
Everything about the plan seemed perfectly whimsical. London-born architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick would create a beautiful bridge rich with overgrown foliage to span across the River Thames. Yet it now appears that Heatherwick’s plan will not come to be, as earlier today London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, withdrew his support of the project.
In a letter addressed to the Garden Bridge Trust chair, Khan said he would not guarantee funds for the bridge’s operation and maintenance. The mayor expressed concerns about the massive construction costs — which have been estimated at more than £200 million (roughly $260 million) — along with the funding of the bridge’s upkeep, as a burden to London taxpayers. “I am simply not prepared to risk a situation where the taxpayer has to step in and contribute significant additional amounts to ensure the project is completed,” Khan said in the letter. Although much of the bridge would have been paid for by government funding, the structure would have been privately run — which meant the space could, and likely would, occasionally be closed to the public for private corporate events.
Heatherwick’s design was first approved in 2013, when Boris Johnson, London’s mayor at the time, was in favor of the ambitious project. Some critics of Johnson pointed out that he seemed to favor vanity projects in order to build London’s image. Many were anticipating the Garden Bridge, with its 270 trees and beautiful views of the skyline, to be London’s version of New York’s High Line. There has been no word on whether the designated space will be used for another, less costly bridge.
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