Vessel at Hudson Yards by Heatherwick Studio in New York, USA. Heatherwick studio was invited to design a public centerpiece for Hudson Yards, a new 11-hectare development on Manhattan’s upper west side being constructed above a huge rail yard. To create something memorable, the studio decided to create a structure that visitors might be able to use and touch, not just to look at.
A design was developed for a new social landmark that could be climbed and explored by everyone. Influenced by the Indian stepwells of Rajasthan, formed from multitudes of stone staircases reaching down into the ground, the studio became interested in the mesmerizing visual effect of the repeating steps, flights and landings.
Composed of 2,500 steps, 154 flights, 80 landings and 16 storeys, the resulting design. Is a climbing frame to lift people above the new square and reveal views across the Hudson River and Manhattan. Fabricated in Venice, Italy by specialist steel fabricator Cimolai, Vessel’s complex architectural framework of raw welded and painted steel contrasts with its polished copper-coloured steel underside that reflects the surrounding city. Forming a major free public attraction at the heart of this new district, Vessel represents an intention to create an extraordinary new kind of public legacy for New York.
By opening up voids between the steps to create a three- dimensional lattice, the public square could be stretched upwards, creating more than a mile of routes that could be explored in different ways. To create the continuous geometric pattern of the stepwell, with 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, the object had to be self-supporting – a discreet structural solution was required, which did not need additional columns and beams. This was resolved by inserting a steel spine between each pair of staircases, creating a natural division between ‘up’ and ‘down’. The raw welded steel of this structure is exposed to give the object clarity and integrity, and the underside of the staircases is clad in a deep copper-toned metal, setting them apart from the surrounding architecture.
Every element of the Vessel is bespoke, from the joints to the handrails. The 75 huge steel components were produced in Venice by specialist fabricator Cimolai, before being brought from Italy in six shipments, carried across the Hudson River by barge, and assembled on site in a process that took three years. Yet despite the size of the Vessel, it has been designed at a human scale, to be climbed, explored and enjoyed by New Yorkers and visitors – a simple structure, animated by people and the reflections of the square beneath.
Architects : Heatherwick Studio
Location : Hudson Yards, New York, NY 10001, United States
Category : Landmarks & Monuments
Design Director : Thomas Heatherwick
Group Leader : Stuart Wood
Project Leader : Laurence Dudeney
Project Team : Charlotte Bovis, Einar Blixhavn, Antoine van Erp, Felipe Escudero, Thomas Farmer, Steven Howson, Jessica In, Nilufer Kocabas, Panagiota Kotsovinou, Barbara Lavickova, Alexander Laing, Elli Liverakou, Pippa Murphy, Luke Plumbley, Ivan Ucros Polley, Daniel Portilla, Jeff Powers, Matthew Pratt, Peter Romvári, Ville Saarikoski, Takashi Tsurumaki
Area : 2210.0 m2
Project Year : 2019
Photograph : Iwan Baan