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New York’s Next Big Public Landmark Is Coming to Hudson Yards

The Vessel breaks new ground as an outdoor public space.

By James L. Knobloch September 20, 2016
All photos courtesy of Courtesy Forbes Massie / Heatherwick-Studio

Hudson Yards is Manhattan’s latest mega-development, which will eventually include some 16 skyscrapers of more than 12.7 million square feet of office, retail, and residential space. Yeah, you read that right—as you sit in your 500 square foot studio. 12.7 million. You could definitely have that walk in closet for your sneaker collection.

Though total completion of the project isn’t expected until 2023, several of its towers are already open for business, with notable tenants including HBO, CNN, Coach, L’Oreal, and the Associated Press. I guess they have more to spend on rent than you do.

Related: Moneybags: Did Coach Really Cash Out Their Hudson Yards Space For $707 Million?

In addition to all that office space, there’s also 14 acres of public open spaces, and one of those spaces is getting an eye-catching, $200 million centerpiece known simply as “Vessel.”

“This will be one of the great public squares of New York City,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “…a must-see and a must-walk for all New Yorkers.”

London born architect Thomas Heatherwick—whose firm Heatherwick Studio designed Vessel—also created the stunning (if somewhat controversial) cauldron for the 2012 London Olympics. According to Heatherwick, Vessel’s design is intended to “lift people up to be more visible and enjoy new views and perspectives of each other.” The actual interpretation of this idea has been likened to “a beehive, or a ribcage, or perhaps a kebab,” but perhaps most accurately, “an enormous set of stairs”—a mile’s worth, to be precise—that’s made up of more than 150 interconnected staircases.

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The Vessel will be both an amazing architectural structure and a grueling glute workout. Vessel was not designed to just be some static, monolithic sculpture to be viewed from afar. Vessel is meant to be an interactive public landmark—a participatory piece of the public urban landscape—that can be equally appreciated from within as it can from a distance as a piece of art. Perhaps it is for this reason that some are anticipating Vessel will one day be counted among such New York staples as the Tree at Rockefeller Center and the Washington Square Park arch.

“It will become to New York what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, I believe,” said Stephen Ross, the Chairman of Related Companies (one of Hudson Yards’ developers). In a plaza larger than Trafalgar Square in London and surrounded by almost 30,000 native plants, Vessel is a reflection of the city’s evolved perception of public areas.

Says Heatherwick:

“New York has revolutionized our thinking about public space in the last decade.” During the press conference to unveil Vessel, Heatherwick went on to say he felt “enormous pressure” to “create something that would match the megaproject’s skyscrapers in architectural noteworthiness, but without adding more height to the public square.”

Considering his work will be neighbors with the likes of the High Line, Heatherwick’s worry is understandable, but perhaps unfounded, as Vessel—while surely the future subject of many a New York debate—is poised to be New York’s next great piece of iconography.

The verdict will have to wait, though—Vessel is expected to open in 2018.

James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

ABOUT THE AUTHOR James L. Knobloch

A creative professional with a sharp tongue and a big smile, taking on city living one slightly-veiled sarcastic comment at a time. Born and raised just outside of New Orleans, James is a living testament to his own mantra, “Southern hospitality is a privilege, not a right,” giving his work a unique, dry humor meets charm perspective.

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