Thomas Heatherwick is bringing a new public monument to New York City. Due for completion in Autumn 2018, Vessel has been commissioned as the centrepiece for the largest development in New York City since the Rockefeller Center. Rather than just be something to look at, Heatherwick Studio‘s design undertook the challenge of creating a landmark every inch of which could be climbed and explored. Vessel will lift the public up, offering new ways to look at New York, Hudson Yards and each other.
Its 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, 2,400 steps and 80 landings will create a mile’s worth of pathway rising up above the public plaza. It will stand 150 feet tall, with a diameter of 50 feet at its base, widening to 150 feet at its top. Currently in fabrication in Italy, it is constructed of a structural painted steel frame with its underside surfaces covered by a polished copper-coloured steel skin.
”My studio was commissioned to design a centrepiece for an unusual new piece of land in New York. In a city full of eye-catching structures, our first thought was that it 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,” said Thomas Heatherwick, founder and principal of Heatherwick Studio.
”When I was a student, I fell in love with an old discarded flight of wooden stairs outside a local building site. It caught my imagination and I loved that is was part furniture and part infrastructure. You could climb up stairs, jump on them, dance on them, get tired on them and then plonk yourself down on them,’‘ Heatherwick added.
”Years later, suddenly here was an opportunity to make a new kind of landmark for Hudson Yards. We wondered whether it could be built entirely from steps and landings? The goal became to lift people up to be more visible and to enjoy new views and perspectives of each other. When the project is complete it will be 16 stories high, almost a linear mile of new public space. The idea is that it will act as a new free stage set for the city and form a new public gathering place for New Yorkers and visitors,’‘ Heatherwick concluded.