The new Hudson Yards are intended to revive a formerly industrial area of Manhattan and provide new (luxury) housing. The complex is built over massive rail yards – still partially visible pending planned development to come.
The draw for non-residents, in addition to views, retail and restaurants, is the Vessel, a structure Conceived by British designer (not an architect), Thomas Heatherwick, comprising only 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings and one unorthodox (cog driven, un-shafted) elevator. (The elevator is not available to all visitors; contact the Vessel about permitted use.)
It offers a dizzying experience (with novel views and perspectives) – not so much for its height but for the lack of enclosing walls and right angles. Further, the bottom of each of the many tiers of stairs is clad in polished copper so moving reflections are constantly pulling your eye in unexpected directions and further challenging your sense of balance. The numerous flights are nicely graded for easy climbing but handrails are useful to anchor yourself in space from time to time. There are many perspectives that make you feel as if you were dropped into an Escher drawing.
The 7 train will get you almost to its foot. I visited on a day cold, windy and brilliant. The wind may be exacerbated by the surrounding construction but it may add to the thrill of the experience – provided you can hold onto your hat.
The Vessel has garnered lots of colorful and snarky criticism: see e.g., the Baffler, The New Yorker and The New York Times, but it appeals, as did Cristo and Jeanne-Claude’s Gates, as a personal experience generating ideas and conversation and some genuine “gee whiz!” moments. It is brassy and aggressive, arguably vacuous and senseless, but it is very typically NYC, and it may well become a significant draw.
As of this date, access to the Vessel is free – but requires tickets for crowd control, available on line (here) and as available, at the site. Also typically NYC, when you attempt to book tickets online, you have to wait in line, on-line, before you can do so. This is apparently a sign of things to come. One has to laugh.
All photos by Fred R. Cohen. See more of his photos on his website.