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Heatherwick proposes towering ‘staircase to nowhere’ for New York


Heatherwick Studio has revealed plans for a £115 million bronze-clad landmark featuring 154 intersecting flights of stairs in New York

Dubbed The Vessel – the 16-storey viewing platform will be the centrepiece of New York’s enormous £15 billion Hudson Yards regeneration masterplanned by KPF.

Tapering from 15 metres at its base to 45 metres at its summit – the public realm feature will provide 360˚ views of the surrounding city alongside new exercise routes for runners.

According to a statement on the practice’s website: ‘Rather than just be something to look at, Heatherwick Studio‘s design undertook the challenge of creating a landmark every inch of which could be climbed and explored. Vessel will lift the public up, offering new ways to look at New York, Hudson Yards and each other.’

The design – unveiled in the presence of New York mayor Bill de Blasio last week – has been inspired by Indian Stepwells which allow water to be harvested in episodes of both drought and heavy rain.

Once complete in 2018 – the structure will feature 154 flights of stairs and 80 landings. A curving elevator will also be included as an alternative to the 2,500 steps.

The exterior of the structure – resembling a giant bee-hive – will feature a structural steel frame finished in a polished copper colour which is currently being fabricated in Italy.

The Vessel will be constructed in the centre of a two hectare public square and garden – including native tress and a 60 metre-long fountain – designed by landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz.

Expected to complete in 2023, the mixed-use Hudson Yards will deliver around 1,180,000 m2 of development in 16 skyscrapers.

The project – thought to be the city’s largest since the Rockefeller Centre in 1939 – will be constructed above the 10.6 hectare West Side Yard which sits at the north end of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s High Line park.

The Vessel


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Readers' comments (3)

  • any lifts?

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  • Proposes? - with the structure already being fabricated in Italy? Is this becoming Mr Heatherwick's modus operandi, get his creations under way a.s.a.p. before the dazzle wears off and people start looking at each other and wondering what on earth they've been landed with?
    Indian step wells? Surely they're rather more attractive - and interesting - than this, and isn't it rather surprising that the prosaic ingenuity of expanded metal mesh isn't quoted as an inspiration? - and in terms of symbolism a clumsy and overblown 'staircase to nowhere' might come to symbolise the ascent of Trump, although on second thoughts the fantastic illusions of MC Escher's staircases might prove a more accurate take on his ascent to power.

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  • A curving elevator was mentioned - I think that's a 'lift' in English

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