Enormous sculpture in the shape of a honeycomb designed by Thomas Heatherwick is opened to the public at the West Side development. The artwork is called Vessel for now, and it had its first visitors on March 15, 2019. For a limited time, all interested individuals will be able to climb its 154 staircases for free!

The structure is made out of 80 landings and interconnected stair flights. The opening happened at the same time as the opening of other gardens and the plaza, all part of phase one of Hudson Yard development.

Stuart Wood, a partner and group leader at Heatherwick Studio, said that the company never designed a structure like this and it will probably never do something like that again. He said that it is not a sculpture or a building and definitely not a viewing platform. In his words – “we’re thinking of this as a piece of furniture”.

The inspiration for the project were three-dimensional public spaces, especially the famous Spanish Steps in Rome. The Vessel is narrow at the base, but it expands at the top. Wood said that they didn’t want to make something that had a huge footprint and that this is the reason why the structure is narrow at the bottom and expands at the top.

The vessel was first unveiled in September 2016, but now as it is opened to the public, it is expected to become a popular selfie spot for tourists. Visitors can decide whether they want to walk the full mile of stairs or take a sloping elevator directly to the top. For Wood, the best views are on the inside of the structure, even though visitors can take a glimpse of New York skyline and the Hudson River.

The architects decided to use two completely different materials on the inside and the outside. According to Wood, they have chosen to wrap the soffits in copper-coloured metal to reflect the people who are walking or standing in the plaza below. However, on the inside, they have chosen to use concrete, which is darker and fits in the urban environment. Wood said that on the inside people should feel like the pavement has been lifted into the air.

Since the structure is now open to the public, there will be a public competition to decide what will be its name.

The Vessel is located in Hudson Yards, surrounded by glass skyscrapers and in the middle of plaza designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz. Hudson Yards is built over the top of a 28-acre active rail yard, and it is the largest private development in the US. Apart from these structures, part of phase one is a residential skyscraper developed by SOM, a corporate block developed by KPF, a building by Foster + Partners and two sister office towers.

A school and eight more towers are going to be part of the second phase. For the other part of the High Line, Heatherwick Studio imagined two condo towers with bulbous windows. Pier 55 park, by the British studio, is already under construction nearby.