M. C. Escher drawing or honeycomb for humans? British designer Thomas Heatherwick has just unveiled a dizzying new project for an installation that will be the star of the Hudson Yards development, and it’s turning heads with its intricate and unusual design. “Vessel” is a 15-story, open-air staircase to nowhere clad in a polished copper-colored steel skin. The structure, filled with 2,500 climbable steps, is set to open in 2018 and once completed, will hold court in the middle of the large redevelopment project.
The gargantuan structure will be composed of 154 interconnected stairs and 80 landings, and gradually expand in diameter as it grows in height, eventually reaching 150-ft-wide. According to Heatherwick, the design objective was to create an interactive landmark for NYC that could “lift the public up, offering new ways to look at New York, Hudson Yards and each other.” For those who prefer to enjoy the views without the strenuous workout, there will be an elevator installed to reach the top.
“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,” explained Heatherwick in the press release. “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.”
The bronzed-steel and concrete pieces that will make up the installation are currently under construction in Monfalcone, Italy, and are scheduled to be assembled on site next year.