Heatherwick studio was invited to design a public centerpiece for Hudson Yards, a new 11-hectare development on Manhattan’s west side being constructed above a huge rail yard. To create something memorable, the studio decided to create a structure that visitors might be able to use and touch, not just to look at. A design was developed for a new social landmark that could be climbed and explored by everyone. Influenced by the Indian stepwells of Rajasthan, formed from multitudes of stone staircases reaching down into the ground, the studio became interested in the mesmerizing visual effect of the repeating steps, flights and landings. Composed of 2,500 steps, 154 flights, 80 landings and 16 storeys, the resulting design. Is a climbing frame to lift people above the new square and reveal views across the Hudson River and Manhattan. Fabricated in Venice, Italy by specialist steel fabricator Cimolai, Vessel’s complex architectural framework of raw welded and painted steel contrasts with its polished copper-coloured steel underside that reflects the surrounding city. Forming a major free public attraction at the heart of this new district, Vessel represents an intention to create an extraordinary new kind of public legacy for New York.


Related, Oxford Properties Group


New York, United States





Group Leader

Stuart Wood

Project Leader

Laurence Dudeney

Studio team

Charlotte Bovis, Einar Blixhavn, Antoine van Erp, Felipe Escudero, Thomas Farmer, Steven Howson, Jessica In, Nilufer Kocabas, Panagiota Kotsovinou, Barbara Lavickova, Alexander Laing, Elli Liverakou, Pippa Murphy, Luke Plumbley, Ivan Ucros Polley, Daniel Portilla, Jeff Powers, Matthew Pratt, Peter Romvári, Ville Saarikoski, Takashi Tsurumaki


AKT II, ARUP, Cimolai, KPF Associates P.C, L’Observatoire International, Nelson Byrd Woltz, Permasteelisa, Thornton Tomasetti, Tisham