On 14 September 2016 Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group announced Heatherwick Studio’s design of Vessel, a new public landmark for the Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.

Courtesy of Thomas Heatherwick

Courtesy of Thomas Heatherwick

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

Big, bold and basket-shaped, the structure, “Vessel,” stands 15 stories, weighs 600 tons and is filled with 2,500 climbable steps. Long under wraps, it is the creation of Thomas Heatherwick, 46, an acclaimed and controversial British designer, and will rise in the mammoth Far West Side development Hudson Yards, anchoring a five-acre plaza and garden that will not open until 2018. Some may see a jungle gym, others a honeycomb. — the New York Times

Courtesy of Thomas Heatherwick

Courtesy of Thomas Heatherwick

My studio was commissioned to design a centerpiece 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, states Heatherwick in the press release. “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.”

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.

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