Heatherwicks Vessel Brings

The Vessel Rises Out of Hudson Yards




Nicknamed “The Vessel,” the dynamic structure that has captured media and designers attention for the last few weeks rises out of the multi-billion dollar Hudsons Yards development in New York. At 150ft (45 metres), stairs climb up in every direction providing the public a one of a kind vertical climb unlike anything constructed before. The structure is so massive that it can comfortably accommodate 1,000 visitors at a time.

Related CEO Stephen Ross, who shelled out $200 million for it), there is a point to the climb. It’s all about connection, he believes, and providing the public with a unique space that matches the “dynamism of New York,” as he put it during the megaproject’s opening festivities.

Nicknamed “The Vessel,” the climbable sculpture rises 16-stories—150 feet tall, 50 feet wide at its base and 150 feet wide at the top—and consist of a web of 154 concrete and steel staircases with 2,500 steps, 80 landings and an elevator; the piece, in fact, is a one of a kind custom designed system

The sculpture was to be constructed in Monfalcone, Italy before being shipped to its home on the Hudson River. And now CityRealty reports that parts of what Ross once called “New York’s Eiffel Tower” have officially arrived at the site and await assembly.


There’s an elevator on the southern end that makes two stops on the way to the eighth and top floor.

For mobility impaired visitors, Heatherwick Studio has added a glass elevator that travels along a curving track along Vessel’s inside rim, though it only stops at one landing per story.

A sloping elevator is also included to ferry visitors directly to the top level.

Who can actually climb the thing is, of course, an issue; there’s one elevator, which deposits those who need to use it on the south side of the sculpture, where they can… stay and look out at the Shed before going back to Vessel’s base. Because of the nature of the piece—interconnected staircases, and lots of them—it’s already not very friendly to those with mobility issues. Having an elevator that doesn’t allow for much movement throughout the piece doesn’t help.


Sure, the piece will be ADA-compliant; curving elevators will sweep the wheelchair users, arthritic citizens, moms and dads with strollers, tired people, the very unathletic, and the time-crunched up to the top. For those of us fit enough to make it up even some of those steps, the terraces will form a bronzed steel beehive with neat new perspectives on the city. 


Heatherwick’s unusual elevator design – how does it work?

One interesting aspect of the Vessel so far that’s hardly been written upon is the lift, or as they across the pond like to call them, elevators.

The lift will be quite an unusual one – during a recent visit to their studios Heatherwick Studios informed me their lift is the first of its type in the world. From the pictures I have seen it seems it will serve every other level to the top. It is specifically for disabled people or with mobility problems, and I assume would also be used in cases of emergency. Its not intended as an easy way of getting to the top of the Vessel.




DB: is the structure wheelchair accessible?

TH: yes, and it’s not just as a duty. we’re going to have quite an amazing elevator. we’ve designed it with extra love in the details. when have you ever been on a curving elevator? and in fact, when was the last time you walked up 16 storeys? there was a sense that there was a physical dimension and a spatial human scale to this project, and whether you see it as a building or an extension of public space, it is a platform for new york to use and to do what it wants with.

Joshua Nelson