Lonely Planet Writer

Stairway to heaven - New York City is set to get another iconic structure

New York City is no stranger to iconic landmarks and now, a massive, climbable sculpture is coming to New York City’s Hudson Yards.

View-of-the-Public-Square-and-Gardens-Looking-South-from-33rd-St.-
View of the public square and gardens as  it will look in 2018, Image by Forbes Massie Heatherwick Studio

From the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building, to more recent additions like One World Trade Centre, the skyline is at once historic and ever-changing. Soon joining the landscape will be Vessel, the creation of English designer Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio, set to debut in 2018.

upper-level-vessel
The upper level of the vessel as imagined by an artist.   Image by: Forbes Massie Heatherwick Studio

Located on Manhattan’s West Side, Hudson Yards is an urban development, home to both residential and commercial properties, including office buildings, shops, restaurants, and, in the middle of it all, the Public Square and Gardens. (Designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz landscape architects, this green space is in itself impressive, with 28,000 plants and 200 trees filling six acres.) The centrepiece of the park, Vessel will be a 150-foot-high, futuristic beehive-shaped structure, made up of 154 interconnected flights of stairs with almost 2500 individual steps and 80 landings, on which people can climb or sit and take in views of the Hudson river.

The centrepiece of the structure will resemble a honeycomb
The centre piece of the structure will resemble a honeycomb. Image by: Forbes Massie Heatherwick Studio

In a city full of eye-catching structures, our first thought was that it shouldn’t just be something to look at,” explains Heatherwick. “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.” Heatherwick is also helping to redevelop the new Google campus in Silicon Valley, and past projects include creating the flaming Olympic cauldron from the 2012 London games and a brand new double decker bus. For Vessel, the designer says, “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.”