A 150-foot-tall cluster of futuristic stair-filled hexagons is coming to New York City's Hudson Yards, courtesy of British starchitect Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio. New concept photos for the design, with the working title Vessel, reveal a towering beehive of glass, steel, and copper. Vessel measures 50 feet in diameter at its base and stretches to 150 feet at the top, boasting nearly 2,500 steps spread throughout 154 flights of stairs and 80 landings. Inside this monumental artwork, it will be possible to walk a full mile without passing the same step twice.
Vanity Fair calls Vessel "The most ambitous real estate project in Manhattan," and one executive at real estate corporation Related Companies says, "It will become to New York what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris." That seems like a bit of an exageration for a city that already has plenty of stair-filled landmarks, so Vessel had better be iconic as hell—it was recently announced that it will cost developers around $200 million, more than double the initial estimate of $75 million.
“My studio was commissioned to design a centerpiece for an unusual new piece of land in New York. In a city full of eye-catching structures, our first thought was that it shouldn’t just be something to look at. Instead we wanted to make something that everybody could use, touch, relate to," Heatherwick said at an press junket also attended by Bill de Blasio yesterday. "Influenced by images we had seen of Indian stepwells, made from hundreds of flights of stairs going down into the ground, an idea emerged to use flights of stairs as building elements," Heatherwick continues, adding that he was also inspired by an old wooden staircase he found as a student. "You could climb up stairs, jump on them, dance on them, get tired on them and then plonk yourself down on them," he recalls, and the same goes for Vessel.
Heatherwick, known for London's Rolling Bridge and the hive-like Learning Center in Shanghai, is increasingly defining New York's new aesthetic. His firm, in collaboration with Bjarke Ingels Studio, got the green light to for off-shore park Pier 55 earlier this month, and Vessel is scheduled for completion in Fall 2018.
See more of Thomas Heatherwick's work on his website.