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Thomas Heatherwick Unveils “The Vessel” at Hudson Yards

BRITISH designer Thomas Heatherwick has an unveiled an impressive new structure that will sit at the centre of New York’s vast Hudson Yards development. “The Vessel” will take pride of place amongst more than five acres of public space at the site from 2018. In this video by Hudson Yards, he discusses his proposals in more detail.

The structure’s honeycomb form is created by 154 interconnecting staircases that are left open to the elements. Standing 15 meters wide at its base, the structure widens to 45 meters at its summit and is constructed of a structural painted steel frame. Underside surfaces are covered by a polished copper-coloured steel skin.

"The structure’s honeycomb form is created by 154 interconnecting staircases"

In all, the sculptural centrepiece contains 80 landings and some 2,500 individual steps. Whether any of these will be replaced with escalators in time remains to be seen.

The surrounding public space will feature groves of trees, woodlands plants, perennial gardens and a 200-foot-long fountain mirroring the flow of a river.

Above: An interior view of the structure, formed by 154 staircases (image courtesy of Forbes Massie and Heatherwick Studio).

Above: The Vessel will become the centrepiece of the new development from 2018 (image courtesy of Forbes Massie and Heatherwick Studio).

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, Heatherwick explained some his studio’s thinking behind the design: “In a city full of eye-catching structures, our first thought was that this shouldn’t just be something to look at. Instead we wanted to make something that everybody could use, touch, relate to. Influenced by images we had seen of Indian stepwells, made from hundreds of flights of stairs going down into the ground, an idea emerged to use flights of stairs as building elements.”

Above: A view of The Vessel at street-level (image courtesy of Visual House and Nelson Byrd Woltz).

Above: The new structure will integrate into a wider a public space (image courtesy of Visual House and Nelson Byrd Woltz).

Hudson Yards is the largest private development project in United States history. The 28 acre development site is situated between the Hudson River, Chelsea, Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen and will effectively create an entire new district on the west side of Manhattan island. Once fully completed in 2024, the development will offer more than 5 million square meters of commercial and residential space, an arts centre, a luxury hotel, a shopping centre, restaurants and a 750-place public school.

You can learn more about Hudson Yards – including how it has been constructed over an active rail yard and it’s social and economic impacts – in our short documentary: Hudson Yards: Building New York’s New District.

The Vessel – which “welcomes the public to enter, climb and experience New York in a whole new way” – was unveiled by New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, Heatherwick and landscape architect Thomas Woltz in September 2016.

Above: Climbing Heatherwick's creation will allow the public to "experience New York in a whole new way" (image courtesy of Forbes Massie and Heatherwick Studio).


Learn more on the Hudson Yards development and its centrepiece here. Images courtesy of Related-Oxford, Forbes Massie, Heatherwick Studio, Nelson Byrd Woltz and Visual House. Video produced by Hudson Yards.

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