The highlight of the new Hudson Yards, which officially opened today with much fanfare, is certainly the Vessel, the climbable staircase sculpture by British architect Thomas Heatherwick and Heatherwick Studio. At 150 feet tall, with 2,500 steps, 154 interconnected flights of stairs, and 80 landings, the Vessel has a steel exoskeleton in a beehive shape. There is one mile of vertical climbing to be done, and as we can attest from our climb at the press opening today, it takes a refreshing bit of energy.
Heatherwick himself spoke at the grand opening today, telling the audience of press, politicians, developers and celebrities involved in the Hudson Yards project, that his aim was to “make something that would be free for every user. It’s just a platform for whatever is going to happen on it, with it, for decades to come. He then made a confession: the Vessel would not be complete until the first visitors went up – which we did shortly thereafter. “The whole point,” he said, “was not to have an inanimate object. The whole point was to be lifting up hundreds of people and thousands of people every day. Like the Italian promenade…to share in an extraordinary experience. It’s not finished until you’re on it. We’re waiting and watching what’s going to happen.”
The Vessel was made by Cimolai S.p.A in Mofalcone, Italy and was shipped to Newark by boat, traveling fifteen days at sea in six separate shipments, then barged across the Hudson River. You may remember our story when the staircase pieces first arrived in Hudson Yards. It’s impossible to miss, but The Vessel is located in the Public Square and Gardens, a five acre space designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects in collaboration with Heatherwick Studio. By summer, this public space will have more than 28,000 plants and 200 trees.
The views from the top of the Vessel are great – looking out towards the Hudson River, New Jersey shoreline, and the remaining rail yards that remain uncovered – but perhaps even more stunning are the views into the sculpture’s interior. There is a well-designed funicular escalator on the interior of The Vessel for handicapped and mobility-challenged access. The Vessel will be open daily from 10 AM to 9 PM, weather permitting. Tickets can be booked up to two weeks in advance on the Hudson Yards website or you can get same day tickets by booking at 9 AM each morning or calling to speak with a Vessel Ambassador. You can stay as long as you like up in the Vessel.
While you are in the area, you can also check out one of our upcoming Remnants of Penn Station Tours, which is a short walk from Hudson Yards!