The redevelopment of Hudson Yards in New York City officially kicks off with the opening a climbable sculpture temporarily nicknamed as "Vessel".
The open-air structure was created by British designer Thomas Heatherwick and it’s a maze-like vertical structure of 154 crossing stairwells and 80 landings that combine to form a honeycomb-like shape. Although the towering design appears like a sculptural work, the architects behind the project view it more as a piece of furniture than piece of architecture.
Also, it is slated to be only just the beginning of the $25 billion Hudson Yards development project. In fact, the redevelopment will boast a hotel, a school, a retail mall, restaurants, public plazas and a skyscraper taller than the Empire State Building.
The idea behind the artwork
As an artwork that can carry up to 700 visitors at once, the installation had to allow for a steady flow of pedestrians. From the start, Heatherwick Studio envisioned Vessel as a series of staircases and landings that call to mind the stepwells in India with the aim to create an amphitheater that brought people together.
“Our ambition from very early on was about intensity and socialization, and making a heart to Hudson Yards — but not in a passive way, not in an object that people would look at, take a photo of and move on, but something that would genuinely bring people together”. Said Stuart Wood, group leader at Heatherwick Studio.
The design — which has been likened to a honeycomb, a beehive, an urn and even a rib cage — starts small at the base and fans out to 150 feet wide at the top.
For the material, the Heatherwick Studio decided for reflective copper-colored steel, which mirrors the ground plain of the public square. Wood said the warmth of the copper mimics a beating heart — a contrast to the shimmering blues and silvers of nearby skyscrapers. Many of Vessel's pieces were prefabricated and shipped from Italy, then assembled like puzzle pieces at Hudson Yards.
The installation is open every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and visitors must get a ticket to climb onboard, both on-site and online.