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Get Ready for 'Vessel'

Wednesday 19th October 2016

Continuing our theme of New York from the previous week, in this post we're going to take a look at one of the most ambitious and polarizing public art/sculpture/architecture hybrids to be constructed in recent memory. Part of the Hudson Yards redevelopment project taking place on the West Side of Manhattan, the centrepiece will be a massive project by artist Thomas Heatherwick, of Heatherwick Studios.
 
The CEO of the firm behind the plaza development that will contain the structure, Stephen Ross, was quoted as saying, "It will become to New York what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, I believe." Bold words, and even more bold for being quoted before the final design for the piece was unveiled - only the price tag. Originally priced at a staggering $75 million USD, the cost has since ballooned to upwards of $200 million USD.

For a sculpture alone, that would be a truly inconceivable amount of money, but the Vessel is going to be far more than a sculpture - it would probably be more accurate to classify it as a very useless building.

The design, which has been described as reminiscent of a hollowed out bedbug exoskeleton (thanks for that imagery, by the way, Gothamist), is actually a scalloped tier of interlocking staircases that scale up over 150 feet. With 154 staircases and at least 80 landings, the piece will no doubt become a hive of activity, which will hopefully draw more appealing and less revolting comparisons to a beehive, once it is filled with the milling masses.

"When I was a student, I fell in love with an old discarded flight of wooden stairs outside a local building site. It caught my imagination and I loved that is was part furniture and part infrastructure. You could climb up stairs, jump on them, dance on them, get tired on them and then plonk yourself down on them."

While that might not be the most eloquent description of the grandiose Vessel project, it certain provides an interesting insight into the nature of the design process of what will no doubt become an iconic New York structure. While it might not attain the cultural heights of the Eiffel Tower, it is sure to become a recognizable part of the West Side skyline.  
 
Vessel render by Visual House-Nelson Byrd Woltz

Posted on October 19th 2016 on 06:23pm

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