UPDATE: According to a Related spokesperson, “Vessel” is still awaiting its final moniker.
Standing in the middle of the future five-acre landscaped public plaza at Hudson Yards is Thomas Heatherwick’s upcoming 150-foot tall public sculpture. This is the centerpiece of Related Companies Hudson Yards Phase I master plan and stands 16 stories high.
The structure was fabricated in Italy, and then shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in 75 pieces. Starting in late 2016, each section was lifted and welded in place like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. As a whole, the entire assemblage consists of nearly 2,500 individual steps and 154 flights, shaped like a beehive. Large hexagonal-shaped voids create open spaces between the runs and 80 landings, and account for its unique appearance.
Work on the plaza is ongoing, and almost at completion. Tall trees surrounding the architectural piece were planted last year, while finishing touches on the steps, pavers, and bollards are ongoing. At night, the structure can be seen partially illuminated by the multitude of yellow and purple lights that shine off its reflective polished-copper cladding. The ADA-accessible elevator on the back of the southern rim will also be part of the sculpture. Painted in black, the framing of the exposed elevator shaft is disguised within the dark-colored interior of the structure.
Starting from the 50-foot wide bottom, four flights of stairs surround the center of the sculpture, along with the elevator bank. As one begins to ascend, they are climbing further away from the center point. By the time visitors reach the top, the diameter widens to 150 feet, with open-air views looking down the structure, as well as the skyscrapers of Hudson Yards above, and the Hudson River to the west. It is reported that the sculpture can handle up to 1,000 people at a time.