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Stairways to nowhere in The Vessel.

The Vessel Is Now Famous as New York City’s Newest Landmark

Along New York City West Side rises the monolithic towers of Hudson Yards. Upon completion, thirteen of the sixteen planned structures will sit on a platform built over the West Side Yard, a storage space for Long Island Rail Road trains. The first of its two phases recently opened to the public and comprises a public green space and eight structures that contain residences, a hotel, office buildings, a mall and a cultural facility. The 80-story, 1,268-foot tall 30 Hudson Yards, located at Tenth Avenue and 33rd Street, is the city’s third-tallest building.

Comparatively diminutive to the lofty buildings nearby, is a structure called “The Vessel.” It contains no offices, no shops and only one elevator, which is exclusively for use by the disabled. There is no restaurant or even a restroom, yet tourists are flocking to this fascinating architectural piece. It is an anchoring centerpiece of the newest neighborhood of the City and part of the biggest real estate project in the United States in years. Even larger in scope than the World Trade Center, it is the largest in New York since Rockefeller Center was completed 80 years ago.

The elaborate honeycomb-like structure rises 16 stories and consists of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings that visitors would be able to climb. Designed by the British designer Thomas Heatherwick, Vessel is the main feature of the five-acre Hudson Yards Public Square. Its 75 pre-fabricated pieces were manufactured by the Italian company, Cimolai S.p.A. of Monfalcone, Italy. This company is involved in other projects of the Hudson Yards and is known worldwide for its ability in creating complex steel structures. Cimolai also fabricated the Oculus, the ribbed structure over the World Trade Center Transportation Hub in lower Manhattan.

The Vessel’s bronzed-steel and concrete pieces arrived in New York in six separate shipments and were assembled on site. The structure is 50-feet at the base and 150-feet-wide at the apex, with the total length of the stairs exceeding one mile. The attached five-acre public square has 28,000 plants and 225 trees and is located on the platform upon which Hudson Yards is built. The plaza’s southern side is slated to have a canopy of trees. The southeast entrance is designed to contain a fountain as well.

Some have applauded the bold design, but there are also detractors, one stating that it amounts to a stairway to nowhere. Whatever one’s personal opinion, the largest grip thus far has been Hudson Yard’s original declaration that all pictures taken of the structure would remain its property, which technically is permitted under U.S. copyright law. The Vessel is classified as a private work of art. After outcry from selfie takers, Hudson Yards has modified its stance, so you may post your pictures  on social media without fear of recrimination.