Yesterday, on Manhattan’s West Side, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chairman and Founder of Related Companies Stephen M. Ross, and founder of Heatherwick Studio, Thomas Heatherwick, and celebrated landscape architect Thomas Woltz unveiled plans for a public landmark initially called Vessel – as the centerpiece to a grand new public space.
Vessel is a new kind of public landmark: engaging and interactive, meant to be climbed and explored. Comprised of 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs – almost 2,500 individual steps – and 80 landings – Vessel will lift the public up, offering a multitude of ways to engage with and experience New York, Hudson Yards and each other. In total, Vessel will offer a mile’s worth of pathway rising up above the Gardens.
The dramatic design of Vessel creates a stage set for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world: a geometric lattice of intersecting flights of stairs, whose form rises from a base that is 50 feet in diameter and widens at the top to 150 feet. It is constructed of a structural painted steel frame, its underside surfaces covered by a polished copper-colored steel skin.
Thomas Heatherwick, Founder and Principal of Heatherwick Studio said:
“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.
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.
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.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “This incredible open space will define this neighborhood. And at its center, this new landmark will become an engaging destination that brings New Yorkers and visitors together.
We thank Stephen Ross for his dedication to our city’s public realm. We are thrilled to see Hudson Yards taking shape, and the investments in housing, jobs, transit and public space bearing fruit.”
Thomas Woltz, Principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz, said: “We approached this design by looking at the ecological history of this site, while also thinking about the hundreds of years of technological advances – including the innovations at Hudson Yards – that have enabled Manhattan to become a global hub. Both technologically complex and beautifully natural, the Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards is the newest place in Manhattan that will bring people together, from the local communities to the millions of national and international visitors. Inspired in part by the grand piazzas of Europe, including Rome’s Piazza del Campidoglio, our design uses the towers of Hudson Yards as anchors, the dense planting of trees as canopies to bring down the scale of the surrounding buildings and the garden landscape as the fabric that folds seamlessly into the edges of the park.”