Thomas Heatherwick’s $150 million Vessel sculpture has topped out only eight months after beginning construction. The freestanding staircase is set to anchor phase one of the Hudson Yards megaproject when it opens in 2019, when the five-acre public plaza where Vessel sits, opens to the public.
The 150-foot tall, bronzed-steel and concrete Vessel is designed to react to its surroundings in both material and function. Containing over 2,400 steps, 80 landings and 154 flights of stairs, the sculpture gradually widens out from a 50-foot base to a 150-feet diameter at the top, and will offer visitors unobstructed views of the surrounding Hudson Yards neighborhood and the other side of the Hudson River.
Fabrication on Vessel began in January, with the individual pieces made in Italy and shipped to the site from Port of Newark in New Jersey across the Hudson River. A time-lapse video of the sculpture’s construction provided by Hudson Yards developer Related Companies can be found below.
In a statement, the London-based Heatherwick said the following about the project: “Vessel is one of the most complex pieces of steelwork ever made. Today we are marking the exciting moment when the last of the enormous 75 pre-fabricated pieces which traveled all the way from Italy to Manhattan, has been assembled ahead of schedule and with astonishing geometric accuracy.”
The climbable sculpture has been compared to a pinecone, a beehive, and countless other forms, while critics have questioned everything from the sculpture’s ADA compliance to the implications of running privately-funded public art spaces.
Although the sculpture is only waiting for its cladding, railings, and lighting, Vessel won’t open to the public until early 2019. As part of phase one of Hudson Yards’ development, the surrounding construction on the landscaped plaza and nearby supertalls have necessitated that everything opens at the same time. Once that happens, visitors will be able to move from one west side attraction, the High Line, straight to Heatherwick’s soaring atrium.