'New York's Eiffel Tower': Heatherwick unveils landmark sculpture for Hudson Yards

by Kim Megson | 15 Sep 2016
Rather than just be something to look at, our design undertook the challenge of creating a landmark every inch of which could be climbed and explored
– Heatherwick Studio

British designer Thomas Heatherwick has unveiled a climbable public landmark that will be the towering centrepiece of New York City’s Hudson Yards development.

Vessel is a honeycomb-like structure of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, 2,400 steps and 80 landings. A mile's worth of pathway will rise above a public plaza below.

Conceived as a vast interactive sculpture and a new public landmark, it will stand 150ft (45.7m) tall with a diameter widening from 50ft (15m) at the base to 150ft at its top.

The painted steel frame – with its underside surfaces covered by a polished copper-coloured steel skin – is currently being fabricated in Italy. The project is due for completion towards the end of 2018.

“Rather than just be something to look at, our design undertook the challenge of creating a landmark every inch of which could be climbed and explored,” said Heatherwick Studio in a statement. “Vessel will lift the public up, offering new ways to look at New York, Hudson Yards and each other.”

Stephen Ross, the chairman of Hudson Yards developer Related Companies, has previously said Heatherwick’s tower “will become to New York what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.” It is expected to cost around US$150m (€133.5m, £114m) to build.

The wider Hudson Yards development is New York’s largest since the Rockefeller Center. The mixed-use real estate development will consist of 16 skyscrapers and a 750,000 sq ft (70,000sq m) retail centre with restaurants, cafes, markets, a cinema and bars. There will also be new houses, schools and 20 acres public space.

Vessel will be located in the site’s five acre Public Square and Gardens, designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects.

Speaking about Vessel, New York mayor Bill de Blasio said: “I’m struck by the notion that this could be a place – yes, for people to be active – but also a place that will cause us to reflect and think.

“There’s something compelling and attractive about it; certainly something that will make it a must-see and a must-walk for all New Yorkers.”

Heatherwick is having a busy year. His Pier 55 floating park for New York’s Hudson River is finally being built after a protracted court battle; he has been commissioned to design a new stand for Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage stadium; he’s won a Disruptive Innovation Award; and the controversy over his Garden Bridge for London continues to rumble on.

New York  Hudson Yards  Thomas Heatherwick  Bill de Blasio  architecture  design  sculpture  Vessel 
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British designer Thomas Heatherwick has unveiled a climbable public landmark that will be the towering centrepiece of New York City’s Hudson Yards development. Vessel is a honeycomb-like structure of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, 2,400 steps and 80 landings. A mile's worth of pathway will rise above a public plaza below. Conceived as a vast interactive sculpture and a new public landmark, it will stand 150ft (45.7m) tall with a
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Vessel will have 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, 2,400 steps and 80 landings / Forbes Massie
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