Posts tagged with "Hudson Yards":

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MTA to deck over a 4-acre stretch of Brooklyn rail with mixed-use development

Eager to combat a serious housing shortage in Brooklyn’s Borough Park neighborhood, State Senator Simcha Felder (D- Southern Brooklyn) announced Tuesday that the MTA would be opening a Request for Proposals (RFP) for developing a 3.8-acre stretch of rail bed that runs through the area. Decking over the site and building residences, similar to what’s happened in Hudson Yards and proposed for Sunnyside Yards, could bring thousands of units to an area of south Brooklyn that’s grown rapidly in recent years. The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Bay Ridge Branch section cuts from 61st Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway, and 8th Avenue, and is seldom used apart from the freight trains that might pass through once or twice a day. Looking to create a long-term revenue stream from the site, the MTA released their RFP for developing the site’s airspace, at least 22 feet over the rail bed, on Thursday, available here. Calling for private developers to apply, the RFP demands that teams would not only be responsible for the architectural aspect of the residential buildings on the site, both market-rate and affordable, but also retail and office space as well as parking lots. Additionally, any scheme has to leave the rail track in place, and engineering solutions must be included for decking over a gap that ranges from 82 -feet wide in some places to 118 feet in others. This is no easy feat, especially as utilities must also be supplied to the site and would presumably run through the decking; it’s no wonder that the MTA is requiring the entire project to be privately financed. The cost of decking over the much larger, 180-acre Sunnyside Yards has been projected to cost up to $19 billion for similar reasons, though no cost estimates have been released for this stretch of the LIRR yet. The fight to build over this stretch of tracks has been going on for years, with local community groups only recently embracing the plan. Senator Felder stressed that any new construction would have to fit the character of the surrounding neighborhoods. “The vision is to create residential development that is consistent with the character of the neighborhood,” said Felder. “The location of this project presents a significant opportunity to create additional housing units on a gigantic parcel of land that covers a few city blocks.” Interested applicants have until April 27th, 2018, to submit a proposal.
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Hudson Yards centerpiece “Vessel” tops out

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.
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Towering development to reshape Manhattan-adjacent Edgewater, NJ

Four new towers proposed for the eastern shore of Edgewater, New Jersey, are set to bring the tiny borough out of the shadows cast by neighboring Manhattan and Jersey City. Providing approved plans for a site at 115 River Road, New York YIMBY has revealed glimpses into a 1,919-unit project that may jumpstart development in a city that has remained mostly low-slung. Built on top of a 50-foot-tall landscaped podium that covers most of the site, the towers would range from almost 600 to more than 700 feet in height and would be split 50-50 between rental and condo buildings. The site’s developer, Fred Dabies, has also integrated a parking structure within the podium, walkable waterfront access, and proposed a suite of amenities for condo owners. The massive, blockish towers would not only dwarf all other buildings in the surrounding city, but also stand taller than any existing residential developments in Brooklyn or Queens. Waterfront property across New Jersey is becoming increasingly valuable along the Hudson River, as development tries to keep pace with rising costs in Manhattan. With more businesses moving into Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, it’s expected that office workers will continue to seek out housing across the river. Edgewater is no stranger to ambitious proposals. Thanks to expanded ferry service into the city, combined with building booms in neighboring Jersey City and Hoboken, Edgewater has been struggling to retain its share of lower income housing. The city government is currently fighting with a separate developer at 615 River Road over a similar 1,800-unit project, where Mayor Michael McPartland chose to seize the parcel through eminent domain to head off future construction. Divided between a population of longtime locals and former New Yorkers who chose to leave for a more affordable alternative, it remains to be seen if the 115 River Road project will continue in its current form or be scaled back. No completion date or names of attached architects have been announced yet.
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Air rights locked down for BIG’s spiral tower in Hudson Yards

At a buy of $157 million, New York–based developer Tishman Speyer secured the final air rights it needed for The Spiral, a massive new BIG building in Hudson Yards. The green-ribboned glass monolith, which will top out at 65 stories with a $3.2 billion price tag, acquired the rights from lots around the Eastern Rail Yards owned by the Hudson Yards Development Corporation. Pfizer, the New York–based pharmaceutical mammoth, will be the tower's primary tenant, and has already inked a deal to rent out 800,000 square feet of the total development. To date, Tishman Speyrer has spent $265 million on air rights alone—the tower will rise to a lofty 1,005 feet, which will make it the second-tallest development in the Hudson Yards, right after 30 Hudson Yards. Designs for the supertall were first released last February by the developer, and feature an ascending spiral of terraces populated with vertical and hanging greenery split between two-floor atria. These spaces, leased out as offices, housing, and hotel, will offer incomparable views over the Hudson River and the High Line, which will extend right up to the tower's base. The idea for the spiraling greenspaces (a popular trope, especially after Stefano Boeri's forested towers in Milan) is drawn from naturally-occurring patterns demonstrated in plant growth, molecular structure, and galactic formations, as Ingels explains in the tower's promotional video. With all rights locked down, Tishman Speyer now has the go-ahead for construction, joining its KPF-designed neighbors 55, 30, and 10 Hudson Yards.
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More renderings revealed for Hudson Yards tower near Vessel and the Shed

New Yorkers now have a more complete idea of what Manhattan's Hudson Yards will look like: New renderings depict a slender stone and glass building from New York's Davis Brody Bond that will saddle up next to structures by Thomas HeatherwickDiller Scofidio + Renfro, and KPF.
One Hudson Yards, located near Heatherwick's Vessel and DS+R's performing arts center, the Shed, will rise 33 floors and include 178 apartments. These will range in size from one to three bedrooms and will sport ten-foot ceilings.
In addition to this, a press release states that the amenities suite, designed by Manhattan-based architect Andre Kikoski, will feature an 82-foot pool, spa, and fitness center curated by gym chain Equinox, plus a bowling alley, game lounge, half-court basketball court, penthouse lounge, entertaining room, terrace, and children's playroom.
Leasing is due to begin this summer. To find out more of what is going on (or rather up) at Hudson Yards, see The Architect's Newspaper's prior coverage of the 18-million-square-foot development.
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New renderings show future of Hudson Yards

The Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, the owners and developers of Hudson Yards, have just released images of how they imagine the urban development will look. Here at The Architect’s Newspaper, we usually take a skeptical view of renderings, in particular those that claim to represent the city and not just single buildings or interiors. But the 28-acre mixed-use Hudson Yards is such an important new part of the city (at 18 million square feet, the largest planned development ever built in the United States, according to the developers) we are releasing these images that show the official view of the new cityscape. Just squint and imagine streets with no graffiti or paper hot dog wrappers and you can get an idea of how the public will experience the landscape.
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What do New Yorkers get when privately-funded public art goes big?

When Thomas Heatherwick—the nimble London-based designer known for work that defies easy categorization—unveiled his design for a new public landmark called Vessel at Hudson Yards to a crowd of reporters and New York City power players in September, questions abounded. What is it? What will it do to the neighborhood? And what does it say that Stephen Ross, the president and CEO of Related Companies, the primary developer of Hudson Yards, is financing the entire $250 million piece by himself?

It’s natural that Ross chose Heatherwick Studio to design his centerpiece, because the office’s creations stun. For the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, it extruded 60,000 clear acrylic tubes from a center space to create a fuzzy, crystalline object whose apparent fragility is as mesmerizing as it is clever. As the studio moves toward ever-larger and ever-more-public commissions, the people who will live with its work will need to seriously consider what it will mean for their neighborhoods and cities.

Interactive public art is plentiful, but there are no pieces with the built-in interactivity of Vessel. In Chicago, tourists snap selfies with Anish Kapoor’s parabolic Cloud Gate (the Bean), while at New York’s Astor Place visitors can now once again give Bernard Rosenthal’s Alamo (the Cube) a spin. Vessel is supposed to be to Hudson Yards what the Christmas tree is to Rockefeller Center, but on display all year round. Related said it’s a “new kind of public landmark,” while The New York Times called it “a stairway to nowhere.” Heatherwick referred to it as a “device.” Critics have been unable, or unwilling, to name it. There’s power in naming, so let’s call Vessel what it is—it is architecture. It fulfills the most basic criteria for the category: The piece serves a purpose and acts as an apparatus for the reorientation of the body in relationship to both the ground and the city.

Vessel’s 2,400 steps will anchor the largest private development in the U.S., lifting visitors above Hudson Yards’ 14 acres of parks and plazas. The elevations will give New Yorkers and tourists—siphoned off a to-be-constructed High Line spur—a place to view each other and all the stalagmitic towers of Hudson Yards. When complete, the 16-story structure will be the tallest freestanding observation platform in the city, at least until Staten Island’s New York Wheel starts rolling.

Formally, the piece is inspired by Indian stepwells, but according to Heatherwick, it’s a monument “to us.” Like Pier 55, the architect’s park on mushroom stilts on the lower west side, Vessel has instant visual currency—critics have compared it to a snakeskin teacup, honeycombs, bedbugs, and a döner kebab. For its creator, it’s a bespoke response to the globalized taste that plants boring glass curtain-wall towers in Shanghai and London and plops blue chip art on corporate plazas in Los Angeles and Chicago. Vessel is the antidote that nurtures a spirit of togetherness: “Buildings are getting bigger and bigger—that mega-scale, it’s something new,” Heatherwick told AN at the unveiling. “But 2,000 years ago, humans were mostly the same size we are now. The human scale stays true.” Like its creator, who the press has affectionately compared to Willy Wonka, Vessel is so earnest: Its intricate symmetry and aesthetics divorce the grand stair from a signal of power and prestige, while its ostensibly public nature decouples the ordinary stair from its floor-to-floor workaday obligation.

Underneath its sincerity, though, Vessel harbors serious contradictions. Heatherwick said it “has no commercial objective,” which is hard to buy when the structure is the ultimate native advertising: It will sit smack in the middle of a five-acre park in the eastern yard designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz, a jewel in a glittery crown. It puts Ross’s taste and design acumen on display for public admiration. As a gathering space, it’s intended to integrate the raw development—which sits on a crust of artificial land over its namesake rail yards—into the rich fabric of New York City.

A proper design narrative, rolled out by the mayor and a multiracial dance troupe from Alvin Ailey, paves the way for public acceptance and mental integration before the idea is built out. Who could argue with Heatherwick’s kumbaya, a campaign for one New York?

In a city where even the ultra-rich hustle in and out of the subway, Vessel elevates the time-honored art of the schlep to civic priority—sort of. Heatherwick said it has no prescribed meaning, and that it is up to the public to decide—a vote for radical spatial practice if there ever was one. There’s tremendous satisfaction, too, in hauling up a long set of set of stairs, our urban mountainsides. The whole-body high from ascending a tough trail, or emerging from the Lexington Avenue–63rd Street subway station, humbles screaming quads before God, gravity, and smart engineers. Heatherwick’s gift to the city of New York, defines a citizen-subject as one who can walk—a lot. In a promotional video for Hudson Yards, Heatherwick says “it’s extremely interactive, but properly,” slapping his torso and thighs, “using your physicality.”

On the surface, there’s a positive correlation between the healthy metropolis—a public ideal that New York embraces—and the fit citizen—a personal ideal. But we’re still far from health equity. 

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. Flânerie never goes out of style, and in 2018 when Vessel opens, people will be watching other people on screens, too, documenting the fun on Instagram in a flurry of #Heatherwicks. Millennial employees of VaynerMedia, a Hudson Yards tenant, might use the thing as a StairMaster, and I predict there will be a Buzzfeed article on how to keep in shape with the new outdoor fitness structure. For his part, Heatherwick hopes that Vessel can be used for live performance, a dynamic and ostensibly more public forum than a Broadway theater or DS+R’s slick corporate Shed adjacent to Heatherwick’s piece. (So corporate, in fact, that “Culture” was removed from the name.)

However, even though initial renderings usually oversell the final product, Heatherwick’s visions are particularly egregious. Although the structure is being assembled right now, the renderings raise troubling questions about the gap between the not-architecture-but-still-architecture’s intended and probable uses.

As his Shanghai Expo pavilion, his redesigned Routemaster bus for London, and his 2012 Olympic cauldron demonstrate, Heatherwick is a master detailer and global designer adept at translating compelling human themes to local contexts. The Vessel model, which Ross reportedly kept under lock and key in his office, has been ready for months. Why then, at the public unveiling in September, were so many details missing?

Consider the crowds. Heatherwick’s piece is supposed to take the success of the High Line and spin it vertically. Though pioneering, the High Line has received justified criticism for its crowding and lack of surprises, but at least it gets you, slowly, from place to place (and, as art critic Jerry Saltz observed, it keeps tourists out of Chelsea’s galleries). If on nice days the High Line backs up, how will crowds be managed on a structure that only has egresses at its base? Heatherwick insists Vessel will be free to visit, but how besides timed and ticketed entry will the structure accommodate everyone?

If it’s as popular as its creators believe, Vessel will attract not only people but also those other New Yorkers: The pigeons. The structure seems ready-made for roosting, and I can’t imagine how hard it will be to properly enjoy Vessel while dodging dove turds. And in cold weather, I hope Ross will be more sedulous about de-icing the platforms than the neighbors on every block who make pedestrian booby traps out of sidewalks in front of their buildings.

As one climbs up Vessel, the railings stay just above waist height all the way up to the structure’s top, but when you build high, folks will jump. After a student leapt into the soaring central atrium of NYU’s Bobst Library seven years ago, the school installed metal fencing—on top of the Plexiglas barriers it had put in years earlier in response to other suicides. Philip Johnson and Richard Foster didn’t see the death in the design that the public’s morbid ideation uncovered, but Ross and Heatherwick seem not to have learned from Bobst, or from the city’s bridges and iconic tall buildings. If barriers are installed, how will they affect the views, Vessel’s main selling point?

Critics have compared Vessel to the Eiffel Tower, but Paris’s landmark is very much of its era, and meaning-making in our time has moved beyond tit-for-tat semiotics. New York has the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, and any number of other symbols with which to broadcast its image. Plus, we’re on Instagram: Times Square is the world’s most-tagged location, more featured than the number-two tagged Eiffel Tower. There is already an essential New York space on a billion screens.

At this hour, there’s truly no point in reviving the perennial debate about the vacuousness of privately-owned-and-operated public space. The structure, surrounded on all sides by condos that start at $2 million, a Neiman Marcus, and a Thomas Keller restaurant, is a footnote in a city where politicians and developers plan expensive malls but call them transit hubs; where amateur urban planners like multimillionaire couple Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg, patrons of Heatherwick’s Pier 55, shape public priorities; and impressive but empty fortresses for billionaires jostle each other for space in the sky. In its size and ambition, Vessel feels significant in some way, but in contrast to the High Line’s renegotiation of the urban park, Vessel feels like a Gilded Age geegaw foisted on the city by a “benevolent” rich guy.

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Renderings revealed for Foster + Partners’ new tower at Hudson Yards

Today the developer of Hudson Yards has revealed designs for the Far West Side's newest tower.

Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group unveiled the icy cloudbuster for 50 Hudson Yards, designed by global firm Foster + Partners. The 985-foot, 58-story structure covers an entire city block.

“50 Hudson Yards is envisaged as a vertical campus in the heart of Manhattan that is eminently readable at city scale with three distinct blocks stacked one above the other,” said Nigel Dancey, Foster + Partners' head of studio, in a statement. “Crafted from a simple palette of white stone and glass, the building’s primary structure has been pushed to the edges to create large-span flexible floorplates. It aspires to define the workplace of the future, bringing to the fore the practice’s values of innovation and creativity by producing a positive work environment that seeks to fulfill the needs and expectations of a demanding workforce.”

When complete, the 2.9 million-square-foot building at 33rd Street and 10th Avenue will be the city's fourth largest office tower. When the building opens in 2022, principal tenants like the financial company BlackRock will enjoy outdoor terraces and private "sky lobbies," as well as access to 30 Hudson Yards' outdoor observation platform.

The New York Times reports that New York State is giving Blackrock, a company with more than $5 trillion in assets, a $25 million tax break to stay in the state and move into the shiny new tower.

Construction is expected to begin next year on the white stone– and glass-clad building. In the renderings, glass windows are framed by stone while dark-outlined floors peek out from behind the glazed facade. Column-free floorplates that span a minimum of 50,000 square feet per floor are able to accommodate 500-plus people, and workers on some floors will enjoy expansive outdoor spaces, the result of periodic setbacks.

“Covering a full city block, the building is highly permeable at ground level, allowing it to engage fully with its urban location," Norman Foster, founding principal of Foster + Partners, said in a statement. "Designed for a sustainable future, the building makes an important contribution to the regeneration of the far west side of Manhattan.”

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Building of the Day: Hudson Yards

This is the twenty-fifth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! When approaching Hudson Yards from Pennsylvania Station, seeing parked buses and queues of travelers along 31st Street, it’s difficult to imagine that this 28-acre campus could shed its transitory reputation to become a final destination point for more than just Long Island Railroad cars. But by reclaiming square-footage currently lost to train exhaust, the architects and developers believe Hudson Yards will quickly emerge as a major retail and cultural hub in Manhattan. Today’s tour started on the 41st floor of 10 Hudson Yards (also known as the Coach Building for its primary tenant) and was led by Mark Boekenheide, AIA, and Sherry Tobak of Related Companies, Marianne Kwok of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), and Serena Nelson of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects. Designed by KPF, the 895 foot-tall reinforced concrete tower boasts 1.8 million square feet of office and retail space and is currently home to a number of high-profile tenants. According to Boekenheide, concrete was an unusual material to use for a project of this size in New York City, but was chosen in order to meet Coach’s timeline for move-in. He also noted that many tenants in the building are now opting to keep the material exposed to add a loft-like atmosphere their offices. 10 Hudson Yards and its twin still under construction across the way carry the tradition of twin office towers that stretch down Manhattan avenues ending at the World Trade Center. Although the towers are not identical, Kwok said, both are oriented in such a way to direct energy down to the 14-acres of public space below, reinforcing the complex’s relationship to the city as a whole. Once 30 Hudson Yards is completed in 2018, visitors will be able to take in views of Manhattan from the tallest open air observatory deck. Half of the Hudson Yards’ acreage will remain open space, and will support the creation of interlocking green spaces intended to draw tenants and visitors into the campus. When designing the elliptical gardens, Nelson said, accounting for the heat generated by the trains parked below on the west campus was a unique challenge; on a summer day, when the trains are stalled with their ACs running, temperatures could rise up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, and would effectively scorch much of the existing plant life. However, gardens will soon grow at Hudson Yards thanks to the design of a glycol cooling system suspended within concrete beneath the soil. As confirmed by a 360-virtual reality rendering of the five orbital gardens, the Trafalgar Square-like space will serve as an exceptional northern terminus to the High Line once completed. About the author: Kelly Felsberg is the Program Committees Coordinator at AIA New York.
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Plans filed for $3.2 billion Bjarke Ingels-designed tower at Hudson Yards

New York-based developer Tishman Speyer officially filed their plans for the $3.2 billion, 65-story office skyscraper designed by Copenhagen-based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Dubbed the Spiral for its continuous band of terraces, the tower will reach a height of 1,005 feet. BIG has been quite busy in New York—they just wrapped Via 57 West and The Architect's Newspaper has even heard they're being passed over for projects because clients fear their office is too busy. Though the plans filed with the city only call for 2.2 million square feet, Tishman Speyer is marketing the property at 2.85 million square feet in size; the project will also include 27,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. The Spiral is one of two towers in Hudson Yards already being considered by investment firm BlackRock (if the company decides to leave its Park Avenue home, according to a report by Crain’s New York Business). Back in 2014, Tishman Speyer paid $438 million for the two parcels of land where the Spiral will stand; the company also received a $170 million, 25-year tax abatement on the project later that year. When tenants of two townhouse apartments at 35th Street and 10th Ave. refused to move out, Tishman Speyer paid them a $25 million settlement to vacate the premises in order to move forward with their plans, instead of spending years in court battling it out against the now infamous tenant attorney David Rozenholc, according to Gothamist Tishman Speyer has received over $1 billion from international investors to move the project forward and the developer hopes to pre-lease a third of the building to cover the remaining costs of construction, as reported by The Real Deal. The company also purchased two additional parcels of land across from the Javits Center at 11th Avenue earlier this year, with plans to build another 1.3 million-square-foot office tower.
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Heatherwick Studio unveils design for new device at Hudson Yards

Over the din of construction on nearby towers, today Anderson Cooper moderated a panel discussion and design unveiling of Vessel, Heatherwick Studio's new public work at Hudson Yards
Stephen M. Ross, president of Related Companies, Thomas Woltz, founding principal of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects (NBW), and Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studios spoke with Cooper about the value of public space in New York and the opportunities that designing a park and plaza ab ova present. The project's cost was previously reported as $200 million, though there's been no update on whether that's changed with the just-unveiled design.
"Vessel was really unlike anything I've ever seen in New York. We wanted something great. The city is about having great public places," gushed Ross, whose real estate firm is a co-developer of Hudson Yards, the 365-acre mixed-used development on Manhattan's Far West Side. Heatherwick's design, he said, "was love at first sight.”

In a see-and-be-seen city where even the ultra-rich schlep in and out of the subway, Vessel elevates the time-honored art of flânerie to civic priority. Its 154 vertiginous steel-and-concrete staircases are meant to help visitors experience Hudson Yards and surrounding people from as many angles as desired (or, perhaps, angles unintended). The stairs and viewing platforms converge in a lattice that suggests a panopticon with the geometry of an inverted beehive. When complete, the 16-story structure will be the tallest freestanding observation platform in the city (at least until the New York Wheel starts rolling).

"So often, historic public spaces are commemorating kings, or battles, or tragedies. But this is a new public space. It would be a fake duty to look back," Heatherwick told The Architect's Newspaper. Instead, the project reacts to a 21st-century urban condition: "Buildings are getting bigger and bigger—that mega-scale, it's something new. But 2,000 years ago, humans were mostly the same size we are now. The human scale stays true. This project was not driven by fitness or health alone, but more by how we could nurture the human scale."

Hudson Yards, Cooper maintained, needed an attraction for those humans—a Christmas tree 365 days per year but also something the public could interact with. “It was an extraordinary thing, to make a new public square, in the center of the city," Heatherwick said, comparing Hudson Yards to Trafalgar Square and Bryant Park. "We felt enormous pressure to not make gardens but to make an urban square, an extension of New York."

The design blends a key cue from the High Line—elevation—and reacts to the city’s fire escapes, stoops, and the countless staircases that facilitate the flow of people in the city. “We wanted to make a project out of just stairs, an ultimate body thing,” Heatherwick explained. Visitors can hit their FitBit goals twice over by climbing 250 flights to the structure's top.

On the ground, NBW collaborated with Heatherwick to create the Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards, a six-acre public space that links Hudson Yards with Hudson River Park and the High Line, which will get a new on-site entrance at Tenth Avenue and 30th Street.

Like Heatherwick, who designed Vessel's teacup form with upper-story office workers in mind, Woltz wanted "to create a site that was quite graphic" for the square and gardens. The firm consulted 400-year-old maps to determine the site's original environmental conditions (it was a wet meadow) and captured a snapshot of native flora from that time, Woltz told AN.

This is one of NBW's two active commissions for landscapes over infrastructure: The platform the park sits on is the ventilation cover for the rail yard below, and the platform had to be engineered to support 200 mature trees. “The landscape operates in a seven-foot-thick sandwich of structure. I will never in my life take for granted being on real earth, because everything here is constructed,” Woltz said.

Amid exhalations on Twitter, some raised concerns about the accessibility of the public spaces, especially Vessel, whose stair-fixation seemed to exclude parents with strollers and people who use wheelchairs.

A model depicted elevators on a fixed track—hardly the expansive views and exuberant movement promised by the architects. The project is inclusive, Heatherwick maintained. He told AN that the model is outdated; new renderings, including the bird's eye view, below, were captured from elevators that snake around Vessel's insides on curving tracks.

The High Line, with the new perspectives it gives people on public (and private) space, was key to Heatherwick's approach to Vessel, which he calls "a device, not a sculpture." In the most successful public spaces, there's a chemistry to seeing that's aided by human interaction, he said. A good public space, too, should offer an element of play. "I asked, 'Why are playgrounds only made for children?' We're creating a vertical structure for all of us."

Vessel will be complete in 2018.

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Watch Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group’s versatile telescopic Shed in action

By 2019, the Hudson Yards on Manhattan's West Side will host The Shed. Half a century ago, chances are most people would have presumed that any mention of a "shed" in the rail yards would be used to house locomotives. Now, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Designed by New York-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, The Shed will be home to New York City’s "first newly established 21st-century center for the arts." Rising to six stories and covering 200,000-square-feet, The Shed will comprise a museum, theater/performance space, rehearsal area, and an artists' lab. "We will work with original artists and thinkers from across all art forms and disciplines, to produce and present their new work for the widest range of audiences from NYC and around the world," said The Shed in its mission statement. "We will welcome those artists who take risks, advance their fields, and address the significant issues of our time." "As NYC’s first newly established 21st-century center for the arts, we will benefit from the latest technology, offering powerful opportunities for our artists and our audiences," the mission statement continued. This leads to The Shed's most defining feature: a telescoping shell mounted on rails. Mimicking the great cranes that were once commonplace on the piers stretching into the Hudson River, the shell can support (literally and figuratively) a wide range of activities when it's rolled onto the adjacent plaza. The 20,000 square-foot public plaza can be transformed into an multitude of venues, most notably a 1,250-seat theater (up from its other 500-seater capacity venue). The theater will be created by lifting a screen on one of the main building's upper levels and replacing it with seating. At 120 feet high, the space can be a sound- and temperature-controlled hall that can also cater for an audience of 3,000 members around a performance space. It can also house large-scale artwork. When not covering the plaza, the shell can be used as a canvas for screenings. Watch the telescopic framework in action in the video below: