Related Unveils Thomas Heatherwick’s Honeycomb Sculpture at Hudson Yards

Thomas Heatherwick's "Vessel." rendering by Visual HouseThomas Heatherwick's "Vessel." rendering by Visual House

Last year, Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross promised New York Times reporter Charles Bagli that the firm would install an iconic sculpture at Hudson Yards that would rival the Eiffel Tower. Ross unveiled the design for the $150 million structure this morning, at an event hosted by Anderson Cooper next to the entrance to the year-old Hudson Yards 7 train station.

A view of the public square and the Vessel looking south. rendering by Forbes Massie

A view of the public square and the Vessel looking south. rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

Created by London-based designer Thomas Heatherwick, the 15-story shell will be called “Vessel” and feature 154 interconnected, climbable staircases with 2,500 steps. The structure will also have an elevator for those who are unable to make the climb.

Artisans are currently fabricating pieces of the bronzed steel and concrete vessel in Monfalcone, Italy, but next year, workers will assemble the sculpture in the middle of the Hudson Yards’ five-acre “public square and gardens.” The park will open in 2018 and help connect 30th Street with the final, under construction phase of Hudson River Park at Pier 55 in Chelsea. It will also offer a green respite among the the glassy towers in Related’s massive, mixed-use development on the West Side of Manhattan, which is being constructed on top of an active rail yard used by the Long Island Railroad and Amtrak.

An interior view. rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

An interior view. rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick claims the design of the vessel was influenced by ancient Indian stepwells. But the Times—which got the first crack at the design with an exclusive this morning—compared the sculpture to a jungle gym and a honeycomb, in a piece with the revealing headline “A $150 Million Stairway to Nowhere on the Far West Side.”

Landscape architect Thomas Woltz, of Nelson Byrd Woltz, designed the public space at Hudson Yards. Press materials declare that the square will “feature groves of trees, woodlands plants, perennial gardens and a 200-foot-long fountain that will mirror the flow of a river.” There will also be a new entrance to the High Line at the southern edge of the square, at 10th Avenue and 30th Street.

A view through the upper level of the sculpture. rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

A view through the upper level of the sculpture. rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

Construction on the rest of Hudson Yards is also chugging along. Condos at the 88-story 15 Hudson Yards hit the market this week, starting at $1.85 million and going all the way up to $30 million, according to the Post’s Lois Weiss. The upper floors will hold 285 condos, and the lower stories will host 106 affordable rental units. Related recently finished work on the 52-story office tower at 10 Hudson Yards, 30 Hudson Yards is getting its glass facade next door, and the ground floor is going in for the 72-story, mixed-use 35 Hudson Yards.

Update: In response to comments about whether the sculpture will be handicapped accessible, we have updated this post to include the fact that there will be an elevator.

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18 Comments on "Related Unveils Thomas Heatherwick’s Honeycomb Sculpture at Hudson Yards"

  1. Doesn’t seem very wheelchair accessible

  2. Been There Done That | September 14, 2016 at 5:24 pm |

    I know this is a private development. However What happened to being ADA compliant, This project from day one has excluded many New Yorkers . Now Oxford and Related are solidifying their elitist vision by not accommodating persons with disabilities.

  3. There’s gonna be a lift!

  4. Beyond ridiculous. A gargantuan object offering nothing but gratuitous complexity. A maze of ‘stairs’ which no one in their right mind, or a life would ever climb. A vapid presence surrounded on all sides by reflective glass (think about the summertime implications). A bill for $154M. Truly unbelievable.

    • Robert Walther | September 30, 2016 at 10:33 am |

      Did you copy your criticism from the ‘outraged’ headlines in Paris papers when the Eiffel Tower ‘monstrosity’ was unveiled?

  5. Oh baby!..future, future and future with transformer architectures, design, towers and forest. (superb)

  6. But not a lift to every level… right? So, ADA be damned, this is only for those fit enough to CLIMB.
    Surrounded by high-rise motels, um, “homes”… so the überRich can look down at the busy bees crawling all over the honeycomb.

    This is one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen.
    If it at least attempted to recreate Escher, it might be cool; as is, pompous & pointless. Not an Eiffel Tower.

  7. Why does everything NEED to be ADA compliant? It sucks for people who can’t climb but climbing up a random tower really has no benefit other than being a tourist attraction or a hangout spot. Should we destroy trails in national parks and replace them with paved roads in order to be ADA compliant?

  8. Rob Marchesani | September 15, 2016 at 10:00 am |

    If this is what they have been saying will rival the Eiffel Tower, there is either some collective delusion in those that believe this or it is wishful thinking. There is nothing in this that is even artistic let alone a feat of architectural genius to come close to the Eiffel Tower. What a waste of space and money! In a city of artists, they could have done much better! The Eiffel Tower is iconic. This belongs in a Mall somewhere in Jersey.

  9. Laurie Garrett | September 15, 2016 at 12:48 pm |

    It is shocking that NYC in 2016 would approve something to “rival the Eiffel Tower” that is ONLY accessible to fully ambulatory people: Sorry World, but if you are on crutches, have aknee brace, paraplegic,a disabled war veteran — you can go F yourselves because you cannot have access to this multimillion dollar sculpture. Seriously? SHAME ON YO!

  10. I am disapointed that the sculpture isn’t being built in the USA. Having said that it will be a handsom interactive centerpiece of a new 21st section of NYC.
    APM

  11. I think it’s wonderful. I love the idea and the look. I don’t understand why anyone would be against it. It’s a modern, creative thing to interactively explore and enjoy. What’s not to like? Are these same people against trails in national parks because they don’t serve a functional transportation purpose?

    When the entire purpose of it *climbing stairs to nowhere*, I’m not *entirely* sure why is needs to be ADA-compliant. With that said, it will be, and I’m certainly not unhappy about that. Furthermore, they seem to have come up with a very clever inclined lift to address that, and it may end up being the most innovative and interesting part of the design. Although I’d love to see more views of the elevator, from what I can see, it looks well-integrated and attractive.

  12. Would be better with a roof on top.
    Would be better with a restaurant on top.
    would be better with some wide platform on top.
    As it is, this structure will (most of the time) be dirty, windy, wet, cold, empty of people (except for the homeless).

  13. Thousands of people are cancelling their vacation plans to Paris in order to see this structure!!! It’s amazing, truly amazing!!! If we are going to compete with Paris we’ve got to get tough.

  14. Stole idea from NAME OF THE ROSE. Don’t pay him.

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