Heatherwick channels MC Escher in New York

The designer weaves together 154 flights of stairs for Vessel, a new work destined for Hudson Yards
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Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio
Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

No, it's not an optical illusion. Though, we agree it does look a little like the impossible, mind-bending stairways drafted out by the 20th century Dutch master, MC Escher. However, these renderings are, in fact, a visualisation of Thomas Heatherwick’s latest project. Entitled Vessel, the 2,500-step, $150m, 154 flight confection should, within the next two years, form part of the Far West Side public space development at Hudson Yards, the huge Manhattan redevelopment project.

 

Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio
Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

Heatherwick says the initial inspiration for Vessel was "crowd watching". “The thing to celebrate was the people visiting, and somehow showcase us,” explains the designer. “Our role is to make a big catalyst that might get people to talk to each other in other ways.”

 

Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio
Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

The steel structure has a mile of steps contained within its looping pathways, and was influenced by Indian design, according to Studio Heatherwick. Yet is there another, clear precedent here? Public walkways? New York? People watching? Could this be a tangled-up take on the High Line?

 

Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio
Vessel by Heatherwick Studio. Rendering by Forbes Massie-Heatherwick Studio

For more on that super successful linear park, consider our book, authored by the two practices that oversaw its creation, James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. And for the best in ancient and contemporary Indian Design take a look at Sar: The Essence of Indian Design.


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