Three years have passed since the day Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross boasted that the centerpiece of Hudson Yards’ public plaza would be the New York equivalent of the Eiffel Tower.
At the time Ross was busy auditioning the world’s top sculptors and designers for the job, including Jeff Koons, Richard Serra, Zaha Hadid and Maya Lin. Finally, last Wednesday the outcome became clear with the unveiling of the winning concept for a massive, bowl-shaped, sculpture of circular staircases to be entitled simply “Vessel”.
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Vessel is a giant 15-story web of interconnected staircases going, ultimately, nowhere. Visitors will be able to climb its 2, 500 steps over 154 flights of stairs, connected by 80 intermediate landings. These are festooned with benches from which visitors can just sit, dawdle and enjoy views of the Hudson River.
The polished, copper-colored, stainless steel skin of the structure reflects the images of pedestrians standing in the plaza below. Vessel is currently being fabricated in Italy, and is scheduled to be in place at the Far West Side’s public square in 2018.
The $150 million structure is designed by Thomas Heatherwick. The Briton, created the famous flaming cauldron for the 2012 London Olympics, and is helping design the new Google campus in Silicon Valley.
“I wanted to create a 365-day Christmas tree, ” Ross said, comparing the copper-colored spectacle to Rockefeller Center’s holiday attraction during an unveiling ceremony, The Real Deal reports.
“Vessel” can accommodate 1, 000 people at a time within its lattice of staircases, which rises from a base measuring 50 feet in diameter that will widen to 150 feet as it climbs.