The first phase of Manhattan’s $25 billion Hudson Yards development opened to the public on March 15, and with the embargos lifted and first impressions filed, a wide variety of critics have put pen to paper on their Vessel thoughts. The $150 million, 150-foot-tall occupiable sculpture is the centerpiece of Hudson Yards’ first phase and sits at the heart of a Nelson Byrd Woltz–designed plaza. The Thomas Heatherwick–designed public installation, inspired in part by Indian stepwells, expands from a minimal footprint at the bottom to a 150-foot-wide diameter at the peak. After signing up for free tickets and agreeing to Vessel’s restrictive photo policy, which previously stated that guests would forfeit the rights to any photos or videos taken there, visitors can explore the 154 flights of stairs and 80 landings. Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross, who paid for the structure out of his own pocket, claims that Vessel holds a mile of staircases. For the mobility impaired, Heatherwick Studio has included a curvilinear elevator that stops at three different landings along the sculpture. The intentions behind the piece have been well stated—the desire to create a monument in Hudson Yards that engages, not overshadows, the surrounding towers, and a "living room" for the public and residents who call the new neighborhood home. So, what do people think of the 15-story Vessel? The reviews have been mixed; some saw it as a monument to excess, while others drew comparisons to shawarma, a pinecone, trash can, drinking glasses, and more. Still others juxtaposed the structure’s 360-degree views and position to a panopticon, as Vessel is eminently and intentionally viewable from most places in Hudson Yards. It should be noted that Related insists that Vessel cost $150 million; the $200 million figure cited in the below articles reportedly accounts for the plaza it sits in as well. The Architect's Newspaper AN's Executive Editor Matt Shaw couldn't help but link Vessel to its larger place and the moneyed circumstances that led to its creation, questioning whether it was spectacle for the sake of spectacle. "Vessel and its counterpart, The Shed, occupy an important niche in the rich culture of Little Dubai: they serve as the attractors to get tourists to come and play, and thus spend money at retail options. Like the spectacular Dubai Aquarium, Dubai Frame, and man-made islands such as Palm Jumeirah, Vessel acts to bring attention to the place. The High Line is already doing this, but these new spectacles will bring in tourists en masse, possibly so much that this area will be like a cleaner and even less exciting Times Square. "This centralization of power—via a marriage of government and private interests—gives power to consultants to plan whole districts, as well as ties together Little Dubai and its namesake (and the other countless cities like it). It should not come as a surprise that this is taking place in New York. In fact, it is a very New York phenomenon, as much of this type of culture was shipped from New York’s office towers (literally and metaphorically.)" The New York Times Michael Kimmelman didn’t mince words in his review for the NYT. “It is temporarily called the Vessel. Hoping for public buy-in, its patron, the lead developer of this vast neoliberal Zion, has invited suggestions for a new name. “Purportedly inspired by ancient Indian stepwells (it’s about as much like them as Skull Mountain at Six Flags Great Adventure is like Chichen Itza) the object—I hesitate to call this a sculpture—is a 150-foot-high, $200 million, latticed, waste-basket-shaped stairway to nowhere, sheathed in a gaudy, copper-cladded steel.” New York Magazine Justin Davidson had many of the same concerns as Kimmelman, as he recognized that historically stairs have been used as gathering places throughout New York City, but that ultimately Vessel felt like a staircase to nowhere. “The advance hype doesn’t prepare you for a structure quite this large, shiny, and extravagantly pointless. Its stainless-steel skin gleams russet like polished copper but won’t weather or lose its gloss. From the beginning, Ross declared his desire for an artwork big and splashy enough to focus the whole development. Not a clock or an obelisk—how about a botanical puppy, say, or a Chicago-style shiny kidney bean? Ross wanted something bolder, an artwork he wouldn’t have to warn people off of. Instead, Heatherwick’s piece functions as its own sign: PLEASE CLIMB ON THE SCULPTURE.” The New York Post Post writer Zachary Kussin wrote much more enthusiastically about his experience with Vessel. In an article entitled “Why the Hudson Yards Vessel is $200M worth of glistening glory,” Kussin recounted a grandiose trip to the top of the sculpture. “He’s right. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick and his London-based Heatherwick Studio, Vessel is an interactive artwork made entirely of staircases that make you feel as if you’re in a giant honeycomb, surrounded on all sides by copper-colored steel.” Curbed Alexandra Lange, reviewing Hudson Yards for Curbed, was simultaneously dazzled by the physical structure of Vessel, but questioned its promised social utility. She writes that once inside, rather than sparking conversation between climbers, the focus turned towards the piece itself, and an innate awareness of being on Vessel. “Whatever you call Heatherwick Studio’s Vessel—the wastebasket, the egg-crate, the Escher-brought-to-life, the basketball net, the Great Doner Kebab—it is the opposite of those examples. Not temporary, not cuddly, not delicate. It looks just like its renderings except possibly more perfect. I had mentally assigned it an outer cladding of weathering steel; with everything else so smooth and shiny, surely Vessel would have an industrial flavor? But no—Heatherwick Studio leaned into the fractal nature of its design, and the cladding, copper-colored steel, has a mirror finish like Anish Kapoor’s Bean in Chicago’s Millennium Park, welcoming our irresistible impulse to selfie.” The Baffler Kate Wagner’s take on Vessel was, predictably, the most pointed AN was able to find. In “Fuck The Vessel,” Wagner savages Heatherwick’s entire body of work as well as the structure’s premise, writing that Vessel embodied the attitude of Hudson Yards, a utopia for the rich out of the grasp of the other 99 percent. “It is a Vessel for labor without purpose. The metaphor of the stairway to nowhere precludes a tiring climb to the top where one is expected to spend a few moments with a cell-phone, because at least a valedictory selfie rewards us with the feeling that we wasted time on a giant staircase for something—perhaps something contained in the Vessel. The Vessel valorizes work, the physical work of climbing, all while cloaking it in the rhetoric of enjoyment, as if going up stairs were a particularly ludic activity. The inclusion of an elevator that only stops on certain platforms is ludicrously provocative. The presence of the elevator implies a pressure for the abled-bodied to not use it, since by doing so one bypasses ‘the experience’ of the Vessel, an experience of menial physical labor that aims to achieve the nebulous goal of attaining slightly different views of the city.” Heatherwick’s response For Thomas Heatherwick’s part, he hasn’t let the criticism bother him. On the opening day of Hudson Yards, The Real Deal was able to snag a brief interview, where the English designer shrugged off the above concerns, saying that all that mattered was whether visitors enjoyed it. Indeed, it seems that for as many think pieces and social media slams that Vessel has endured over its purpose and aesthetics, and whether it truly belongs in New York, tourists have still been clamoring to climb it. AN has reached out to Heatherwick Studio for its take on the critical hullabaloo and will update this article accordingly.
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As throngs of tourists and New York City residents descend on Manhattan’s far west side for the opening of Hudson Yards’ first phase, AN joined the first tour of the Thomas Heatherwick–designed Vessel (interested visitors can reserve free tickets). Bill Pedersen, founding partner of Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), Thomas Woltz of landscape architecture studio Nelson Byrd Woltz, representatives from Heatherwick Studio, and Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross, who paid to construct the Vessel out of his own pocket, were also on hand to dive into the design behind the development. With the first phase of Hudson Yards opening to the public today, plenty of ink has already been spilled over the new neighborhood’s “fortress-like” nature, the accusations that it intentionally and discordantly stands apart from the street grid and city as a whole, and that the development is a playground for the one-percent financed through $6 billion in tax breaks (though some might passionately dispute that characterization). Those points have been argued elsewhere. What is definitely true is that the 11-million-square-foot, $16-billion first phase of Hudson Yards is now mainly open, or will open shortly, and it’s likely to draw shoppers, tourists, and High Line hikers to what was formerly an open-air staging area for the Long Island Railroad. The second phase of the megaproject over the still-uncovered western railyard will hold five more residential towers and a commercial project from architectural heavy hitters like Herzog & de Meuron, Frank Gehry, Santiago Calatrava, and Robert A.M. Stern. Related expects that infrastructure work on the second phase will begin next year before the site is decked over. Vessel, Heatherwick’s $150 million not-quite-a-sculpture, not-quite-a-building sits at the center of Hudson Yards’ Public Square and Gardens. The climbable installation is made up of 154 flights of stairs connected to 80 landings, and it balloons up to 150-feet-wide at its 150-foot-tall summit. As project architect Stuart Wood explained, Vessel (explicitly not “the Vessel”—although Related will rename the structure later, anyway) was designed to be open in its programming while not “jamming up” the plaza. “The project was built entirely from staircases and landings. They're public, publicly accessible, free to use spaces. It's non-prescriptive. That was absolutely our intent from the outset. This should be a project that is open to interpretation. It's open to different natures of use.” The underside of the piece is clad in warm, reflective metal paneling that distorts the glass towers around it and brings a sense of liveliness to the “sculpture” as more visitors gather at its base. As visitors scale Vessel, climbers see themselves reflected overhead as the panels act as mirrored ceilings; that interactivity is intentional. On the topside, Heatherwick has used wood railings, darkened steel, and stone for the steps and landings in reference to the site's industrial heritage. With a form so often compared to a beehive or garbage can by outside observers, actually entering Vessel produces an unusual effect. Standing in the sculpture’s base feels akin to entering a towering atrium, with the glass handrails resembling windows. Climbing the structure’s numerous staircases, at least when devoid of the crowds that will surely descend on it after the official opening, felt slightly dangerous. The view of Hudson Yards, the Shed, shops and dining areas, and across the Hudson River, open up towards the top, and might induce the same sense of vertigo found on construction sites. 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. The plaza in which Vessel sits is elliptical and gently spirals out to each of the buildings on the site, a decision that Nelson Byrd Woltz came to in tandem with Heatherwick Studio. As such, it serves as the epicenter of Hudson Yards’ public space, and its central location in the neighborhood’s main plaza visually cements that status. Vessel, for better or for worse, is intrinsically at home in Hudson Yards and wouldn’t fit anywhere else in the world. And even if it wasn’t, as Wood explained, Related has copyrighted the design.
Three of Heatherwick Studio’s monumental projects are taking shape along Manhattan’s High Line, part of the transformation of the Meatpacking neighborhood from a gritty industrial landscape to a playground for the ultra-wealthy. From Hudson Yards at the elevated park’s northern-most tip, to the manmade island taking shape on the coast off of 15th Street, AN recently checked in on the status of the London studio's rapidly rising projects. Pier 55 Pier 55 seemed like it was on the verge of financial collapse just a year ago, as the cost of the Barry Diller–backed project rose to $250 million and the nonprofit Hudson River Park Trust was buffeted by lawsuits. Diller withdrew his support of the 2.75-acre pocket park in the Hudson, and the floating island, supported by sculpted concrete piers, looked like it was never going to happen. Then, thanks to Governor Cuomo stepping in at the last minute to mediate between billionaire Douglas Durst, the City Club of New York, and Diller, the project was declared back on. When AN last toured the site in April of 2018, piles were being driven into the Hudson’s riverbed for the two walkways that would lead to the park. Now, at the start of 2019, it appears that construction is picking up steam. Most, if not all, of the piers appear to be in place, and the 132 sculptural, wave-like concrete caps are being installed. Each of the “pots” was fabricated in Upstate New York from custom foam molds and it’s expected that they’ll be fully installed in March 2020. The installation is on hold for the winter and should begin again in May of this year. Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects will be handling the landscape design proper, and the park is expected to open in early 2021. Once complete, Pier 55 will include an amphitheater and two landscaped staging areas. 515 West 18th Street Further north on 18th Street, the first tower of the two-pronged 515 West 18th Street has already topped out. The 425,000-square-foot development was only first revealed in January 2018 thanks to a video aimed at luring foreign investors, but the project has already made considerable progress in a year. The split project drew polarizing reactions for its bulging, barrel-like bay windows, which almost seem to be inflated from the inside. The two towers (connected via a single-story annex under the High Line) are expected to bring 181 condos to the neighborhood. The 10-story tower on the eastern half of the High Line has topped out as of January 2019, and the western tower, which will reach 22 stories so that residents can catch views across the Hudson River, is already above ground. It’s likely the condos in the finished development will be pricey, as developer Related Companies has promised high-end interiors, plenty of amenities, and 175 parking spots. Coincidentally enough, Thomas Heatherwick’s High Line–straddling project is going up right next to BIG’s; on the southern side of 18th street is the XI, the Bjarke Ingels Group’s pair of twisting, travertine-clad towers. Once complete sometime in mid-2020, Heatherwick’s bulging towers will sit comfortably between the Gehry-design IAC building to the west, and venerable performing arts space the Kitchen to the north. The Vessel At the High Line’s northern terminus, looming over the entire park is the glass-heavy presence of Hudson Yards. At the center of this massive public-private development is the Vessel, Thomas Heatherwick’s $150 million, 150-foot-tall, bronzed-steel-and-concrete staircase sculpture. Completely climbable (an elevator will also be included for those unable to take the stairs), the Vessel features over 154 flights of stairs, 80 landings, and over 2,400 treads. The installation expands as it rises, going from a 50-foot-wide footprint at the base to a 150-foot-wide diameter at the top. Once at the top, visitors can expect unobstructed views across the Hudson River, down the city, and of the surrounding Hudson Yards neighborhood. The piece was prefabricated in 75 large parts in Italy, then assembled on site, with the last segment installed in December of 2017. When AN visited the site last, construction workers were busy putting the finishing touches on the sculpture’s rails and lights. Phase one of Hudson Yards, which includes the Vessel and the development’s five-acre public plaza in which it sits, is expected to open to the public on March 15 of this year.
Thomas Heatherwick’s studio has released renderings of their plan to overhaul Olympia, an events center in west London. The design would transform the Victorian exhibition hall into a high-profile mixed-use space. Heatherwick Studio, along with London-based architecture firm SPPARC, will transform the 130-year-old exhibition hall into a mixed-use district that will hold a hotel, theatre, museums, co-working spaces, restaurants, and entertainment spaces. The $920 million project will completely overhaul the space to make way for almost 600,000-square-feet of office and studio space, and 70,000-square-feet of co-working space. Another 2.5 acres will be dedicated towards public areas. The renderings also reveal plans to pedestrianize Olympia Way and add new public and community spaces while preserving the historic facade, as well as a new, modern building for a theater and performing arts space. The redevelopment of Olympia is set to position it as a global destination for creative industries, as well as having a significant impact on its surrounding area, like the regenerations of Covent Garden and King’s Cross. The owners of Olympia, Deutsche Finance and Yoo Capital, first announced that they were planning to develop the site in 2017. Olympia was completed in 1886 and designed by architect Henry Edward Coe. It’s key features, a massive domed window and an arched roof supported by ironwork, will not be affected by the redevelopment. The 15-acre site hosts exhibitions and events annually, such as 100% Design, part of the London Design Festival, and welcomes 1.6 million visitors every year. “As caretakers of Olympia London, we are investing to protect this iconic site and promote it on the global stage as a world-leading destination for the creative industries," John Hitchcox, chairman of Yoo Capital, said. The current designs were developed with feedback from event organizers, exhibitors, and visitors. There will be a period of public consultation before a planning application is submitted in September of this year. Meanwhile, Heatherwick Studio is working on Google’s headquarters in King’s Cross with Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG).
After a year of feuds, cancellations, and dramatic revivals, the Thomas Heathwick-designed Pier 55 is making real progress. Pier 55, a 2.75-acre park “floating” in the Hudson River off of West 13th Street in Manhattan, was originally revealed by billionaire businessman Barry Diller in 2014 at a cost of $130 million. The park was to sit on a jumble of sculptural concrete pilings and included an amphitheater as well as two landscaped staging areas for performances, with the project’s costs falling solely on Diller and wife Diane von Furstenberg. As those costs rose to $250 million, and as the nonprofit Hudson River Park Trust, responsible for managing the floating park, was buffeted by lawsuits from the Douglas Durst-backed City Club of New York, Diller withdrew his support and the project looked dead in the water. That was all before some last-minute mediation between Governor Cuomo, Diller, and the City Club of New York that guaranteed ecological protections for the Hudson River and state funding for the unfinished 30 percent of Hudson River Park. With funding in place for the stretch of Hudson River Park that runs from Battery Park City to West 59th Street, it looks like construction is now back on at Pier 55. Concrete piles are being laid into the river for the walkways that will eventually lead to the park and performance space, and the southern path has already begun to receive its covering. As revealed in a recent interview with Diller by the Hollywood Reporter, the concrete pods that will hold the park up are currently being fabricated, and work at the site actually began in earnest back in March. Outside factors might still be able to throw the Pier’s construction off track yet again. Governor Cuomo has pledged $50 million in state dollars to finish the remaining stretch of Hudson River Park (no state funding is going towards Pier 55), but only if New York City matches the contribution. While the city seems game to put aside its own $50 million, the deal that revived Pier 55 could fall through if this funding pledge isn’t met; and even if it is, the Hudson River Trust pegs the total cost of finishing Hudson River Park at $619 million. If construction on Pier 55 continues apace, it should be finished sometime in the next few years.
From November 2 through the 4, 2017, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) convened the 36th ACADIA conference in the Fumihiko Maki–designed MIT Media Lab. For three days, nearly 350 people from over 30 countries drank untold gallons of coffee and shared their ideas through an array of research and paper presentations. Leading up to the conference itself was three days of intensive workshops hosted at Autodesk BUILD Space in Boston's Seaport District. ACADIA is a unique organization advancing the computational horizons in architecture. Founded in 1981 by pioneers in the field of design computation, including Bill Mitchell, Chuck Eastman, and Chris Yessios, ACADIA has hosted over 30 conferences across North America and has grown into a wide network of academics and professionals. Welcoming the ACADIANs was Hashim Sarkis, MIT’s dean of the School of Architecture + Planning. He highlighted three "turns" driving new practices in architecture. First, said Sarkis, was the "turn of scalar problems: how technology has smoothed shifts of scale from the nanoscale to the planetary." Second, the turn of values: the open sourcing of production to design processes that empower end-users and will radically change the role of the designer. Design should be a mode of inquiry that now works hand-in-hand with fabrication, said Sarkis. Lastly, he spoke of a turn toward contingency. The traditional view of a designer is that in order to be in control, we need to exclude non-relevant elements. As computational power continues to grow, more contingency enters the process as elements that were once excluded can be brought into the fold, opening design to more variety and possibility than before. MIT Host Committee Co-Chair’s Takahiko Nakamura and Skylar Tibbets welcomed the audience and kicked off the first of 13 paper-based sessions. The sessions ranged from BIM use to Automation, Visualization to Machine Learning. A major sponsorship from Autodesk allowed the ACADIA Board of Directors to award $10,000 in student travel scholarships to paper and project presenters. Breaking up the barrage of research presentations were carefully chosen keynotes from afar and close to home. MIT’s own Neri Oxman kicked off the first day, and the ACADIA Design achievement award was bestowed on designer Thomas Heatherwick that same night. Heatherwick was singled out for his studio's provocative work worldwide, and he shared insights into his studio’s processes. "The ACADIA Design Excellence Award is recognized internationally as one of the highest honors in the field," said Jason Kelly Johnson, outgoing president of ACADIA. "It represents recognition by colleagues worldwide of extraordinary contributions and impact on the field of architectural computing and design culture." The award was most recently given to Liz Diller and the late Zaha Hadid. The next day began with two awards for educators: The Innovator Award and Educator Award, which was followed by an education panel. The Educator Award went to Heather Roberge, the new Chair of Architecture at UCLA. Roberge walked the audience through a handful of studio curricula and projects, and spoke on the crucial difference between a model and a prototype, the different kinds of skills that students learn, the difference between handcraft vs machinecraft, and demonstrated how to use molds to visualize parametric concepts and form finding. The second day closed out with a presentation from Paris-based Iconem, an organization using advanced photogrammetric techniques for heritage preservation in conflict zones. Wrapping up the conference’s final day, Nervous Systems’ Jesse Louis-Rosenberg and Jessica Rosenkrantz described their eclectic design practice, and how the studio uses generative design to create interactive forms. Kathy Velikov, the incoming 2018 president of ACADIA, discussed how ACADIA brings together a community engaged with design challenges and future-facing solutions. Much of the work shown could be brought back to the office or classroom, and either might be applicable today, or open new paths to research or near-future concepts, and tools that will change work across practices. "Next year we are excited that the ACADIA conference will be held in Mexico City," said Velikov in a statement after the conference. "We are partnering with Mexico City's Ibero-American University to host and organize the event. ACADIA is a North American organization, and while we have had several conferences in Canada, this is the first time we will be in Mexico." "Besides the obvious attraction of the vibrance, history, and design culture of Mexico City, this is a fantastic opportunity to frame conversations around computational design within a different technological and cultural context, and to be able to open conference to new communities of participants," he added. The 2018 ACADIA conference, Re/calibration: on imprecision and infidelity, will attempt to recalibrate the discourse around computational design research, and a new venue in a new country is the perfect place to shake things up. The Call for Papers is live and due May 1, 2018 The full list of award winners is as follows: Design Excellence Award Thomas Heatherwick Founder/Design Director, Ηeatherwick Studio Digital Practice Award of Excellence Lisa Iwamoto & Craig Scott Founders, IWAMOTTOSCOTT ARCHITECTURE Society Award of Excellence Bob Martens Associate Professor, TU Wien Innovative Research Award of Excellence Wesley McGee Assistant Professor of Architecture, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning/Co-founder, Matter Design Teaching Award of Excellence Heather Roberge Chair, UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Design/Founder, Murmur design Academic Program Award of Excellence Bartlett School of Architecture, B-Pro Program
Thomas Heatherwick and developer Related Companies have teamed up yet again, this time for a double-pronged condo tower that wraps around a section of Manhattan’s High Line. As first reported by CityRealty, marketing materials for the Heatherwick-designed 515 West 18th Street, and the nearby 555 West 22nd Street, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects (RAMSA), are available via an EB-5 investor website. (EB-5 is a federal program designed to spur international investment by promising green cards in exchange for financing, or through the creation of 10 or more permanent jobs.) The two 18th street towers will straddle the High Line while remaining a single, connected building under the elevated rail park. The east tower will be 10 stories tall, while the west tower will be 22 stories, likely an attempt to maximize views of the neighboring Hudson River. The 425,000-square-foot development will contain 181 condos split across both towers, as well as 17,000-square feet of gallery and retail space. The most defining feature of the project are the barrel-shaped windows, which seem to balloon from within against a constraining brick frame. According to a Related official, the design is a “modern interpretation of the bay window.” As expected of a pricey development along the High Line, the Heatherwick's twin towers will be amenity-heavy and hold a fitness center, spa, entertainment lounges, and 175 on-site parking spots. The video walkthrough of the project seen below, including a look at the high-end interiors and amenity spaces, can also be found on the EB-5 site. Much less is known about the second project on West 22nd Street. The boxy, brick tower designed by RAMSA will likely contain 141 condo units and many of the same amenities as its cousin on 18th Street, but Related has released fewer details on this second building. Together, both projects will form a development tentatively titled the Hudson Residences. Related expects both projects to finish in mid-2020, though neither have fully cleared the city’s approval process. As such, the renderings and information released thus far are still subject to change. Heatherwick and Related have most recently worked together on the massive Vessel sculpture in Hudson Yards, and this collaboration makes sense as Related continues to develop projects along Manhattan’s west side, including the Zaha Hadid’s 520 West 28th. AN has reached out to Related Companies for a comment on the Hudson Residences, and will update this article with more information when it becomes available.
London-based designer Thomas Heatherwick is now facing conflict of interest questions after it was revealed that he was listed as the sole founding member of the Garden Bridge Trust, the charity responsible for organizing the nearly $268 million Garden Bridge project (which was canceled in April), and also participated in some of the trust's meetings and decisions. Previously, Heatherwick had denied any affiliation with the charity and insisted in media appearances that he was "just the designer." As first reported by The Architect’s Journal, Heatherwick, the bridge’s chosen designer, is not only listed as the only founding member of the Garden Bridge Trust, advocating for the creation of the trust, but also actively promoted the selection of some of its leaders, and lobbied and fundraised for the project locally and abroad. According to the studio, the founding member status is an honorary title bestowed upon Heatherwick. Still, questions remain as to whether the design contest held by Transport for London (TfL), the project’s original client, was held in good faith, as Heatherwick’s proposal ultimately ended up winning, and whether the procurement process was fair. Questions have also arisen over how approximately $62 million was spent on the project before it had even broken ground. Proposed as a public-private partnership in 2012 and backed by then-mayor of London Boris Johnson, the Garden Bridge would have spanned 1,200 feet and connected the city’s South Bank and Temple area to the north. Covered by over 270 trees and approximately 100,000 plants, the bridge would have also featured a frilled, arcing superstructure that actress Joanna Lumley, an early advocate of the project, compared to the mountain gardens of Malaysia. Despite the oasis-like nature of the project, questions over how funding for the pedestrian-only bridge would be raised had dogged the development since its conception. The bridge officially became a private project in 2013, with the newly-formed Garden Bridge Trust responsible for private fundraising and running the Garden Bridge once it was completed. Despite the trust raising over $92 million in private funds, Sadiq Khan, the newly elected mayor of London, declined to contribute more than an earlier pledge of $80 million, after costs had ballooned from an initial $80 million to the final $268 million. With questions over how openly accessible the bridge would be, as well as the ultimate benefit to the public, the controversial development was canceled. A Garden Bridge Trust spokesperson told The Architect’s Journal, "‘Thomas Heatherwick’s role as a Founding Member means that he is one of the 12 company Members of the Charity, all of whom hold collectively a small number of powers limited by the Companies Act 2006. The position of Founding Member has no special power or rights attached to it and is simply a title.” Similarly, a spokesperson for Heatherwick Studio told the Journal, "It’s well known that the studio’s role on the Garden Bridge was first as paid designer, and second as voluntary advocate." However, British politicians are calling for a full accounting of the process and how the funds were used.
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.
At The Architect’s Newspaper, we’re plain addicted to Instagram. Sure, we love seeing Brutalist concrete through “Inkwell” or “Ludwig” filters, but there’s also no better place to see where architects are getting their inspiration, how they’re documenting the built environment, and where they’ve traveled of late. Below, we bring you some of the best Instagrams of this past week! (Also, don’t forget to check out our Instagram account here.) Richard Meier & Partners unveiled a dual pedestrian and vehicular bridge in Alessandria, Italy, suspended from an enormous white steel arc. Sleek, Richard. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZgzzhAAhEe/?taken-by=richardmeierpartners Adjaye Associates released new, more detailed renderings for the new home of the Studio Museum in Harlem this week – along with this gorgeous model (via Field Condition). The five-story building block structure will increase the museum's space by 115 percent. It will break ground next year. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZg5koFFWWi/?taken-by=field_condition Not to over-saturate your feed with Iwan Baan, but he's just ... so good at what he does. Here, an aerial of BIG's big new LEGO House in Billund, Denmark – a terraced, colorful playground for adults and children alike. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZl7egsBk2t/?taken-by=iwanbaan Any excuse for a garden wall. Steven Holl Architects here tried a mock-up vertical sedum for the Kennedy Center expansion. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZWMirrAprB/?taken-by=stevenhollarchitects You thought you could escape Thomas Heatherwick for a second – but here he is again, haunting your weekend. The Heatherwick-designed Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa opened in Cape Town last week, featuring immense sections cut out of concrete grain silos to form a central atrium. We demand receipts. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZV0CXohcx9/?taken-by=zeitzmocaa Finally, from Mexico City-based architect Michael Rojkind and his firm Rojkind Arquitectos, a sobering view of the future of reconstruction needed in the aftermath of the city's most recent earthquakes. He will be at a MAS Context fundraiser in Chicago to provide an update from Mexico City. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZha3qXF0M_/?taken-by=rojkindarquitectos That’s it for today, hashtag archilovers and quote-on-quote gallerinas. See you next week for more drama.
[UPDATE 7/17/2017—This article has been updated to reflect that another faculty member from the Bartlett School of Architecture will be attending in lieu of Frederic Migayrou, who was previously listed below.] The Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) has announced British designer Thomas Heatherwick as the winner of the institute's 2017 Design Excellence Award. Heatherwick, who founded his eponymous studio in 1994, will receive the award at this year's ACADIA conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts where he will be a keynote speaker. Running under the title Disciplines & Disruption, the conference will address how technology is impacting architectural design, as well as its methods and culture. Touching on advancements in fabrication, materials, and digital tools, Disciplines & Disruption will also look at how technology has connected—or in some cases, disrupted—once distinct facets of the discipline, making numerous realms of architecture more accessible. "Distinctions between design and making, building and urban scale, architecture and engineering, real and virtual, on site and remote, physical and digital data, professionals and crowds, are diminishing as technology increases the designer's reach far beyond the confines of the drafting board," reads a synopsis in a press release. Heatherwick will headline the conference and appear alongside Ben Fry, founder of Information Design; Neri Oxman, a director at Mediated Matter Group and of MIT's Media Lab; and Jessica Rosenkrantz & Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, founders of Nervous System. Other award winners, who will each deliver a mini keynote themselves, include Lisa Iwamoto and Craig Scott, Heather Roberge, faculty from the B-Pro program at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, Wes McGee from the University of Michigan, and Bob Martens from the Technical University of Vienna. "Thomas Heatherwick's work epitomizes the high caliber of design innovation that ACADIA has sought to foster over the years," Jason Kelly Johnson, ACADIA president and founder of Future Cities Lab in San Francisco told The Architect's Newspaper, speaking of Heatherwick's award. "From furniture to bridges to buildings, his work is consistently experimental, iterative, and well-crafted. It also synthesizes digital and analog techniques in ground breaking ways. Thomas's upcoming ACADIA talk follows in a line of incredible awardee talks and keynote speakers including Zaha Hadid, Liz Diller, Greg Lynn, Manuel De Landa, and many others." The ACADIA conference will run from November 2 through the 4th.
It looks like Pier 55, a $250 million construction project on the Hudson River, will be moving forward—for now—after receiving the required permit modification approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on June 5. This approval of the design changes is the latest development in this project’s history of lawsuits and controversy. In March, the federal court vacated the permit based on the Clean Water Act, citing concerns that the pier’s construction would impact the river’s estuarine sanctuary. In turn, the Hudson River Park Trust and the Army Corps of Engineers filed an appeal and a modified application addressing those issues. The revised application for the 2.7-acre public park and performance space proposed the use of non-concrete fill for the piles supporting the pier as well as the removal of an adjacent barge. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick and funded by Barry Diller and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, the project has been advertised as an extension of the Hudson River Park with ample recreation space. The project has prominent supporters, including New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who applauded the decision to issue a modified permit. “The development of Pier 55 will ensure that the park continues to attract millions of residents, tourists and travelers each year, while showing off the very best that New York has to offer,” he said in a press release. The main opponent of the project, the City Club of New York, has been filing multiple lawsuits against the Trust in an attempt to halt construction. Besides the environmental issues of building on the river, the group argues that the development of the project has been kept out of the public eye. The new army permit contains many deficiencies and still violates the Clean Water Act, according to Richard Emory, the City Club’s lawyer. “You can’t avoid the Clean Water Act by simply not putting fills and piles,” Emory said to The Architect’s Newspaper. “We will continue to pursue opposition,” he said, adding that new litigation is “extremely likely.”