|A model of Hudson Yards in Times Warner center|
When built Hudson Yards will ultimately offer 14 acres of open space, a one-million-square-foot mall with 16 restaurants, and the Shed, an arts center that will be physically connected to 15 Hudson Yards.
But Hudson Yards isn’t just about new skyscrapers. Stephen Ross and Jeff Blau, the impresarios of the Hudson Yards project wanted to create a new New-York Icon.
Two years ago Related Companies chairman Stephen Ross promised New York Times reporter Charles Bagli that the firm would install an iconic sculpture at Hudson Yards that would rival the Eiffel Tower. Stephen Ross made the plaza’s centerpiece a personal project, and started with the wise observation that “(...)every visitor, and every New Yorker, wants to go to Rockefeller Center during Christmas season, to see the tree.” He continued, “So I said, ‘I need a three-hundred-and-sixty-five-day tree, O.K.?’ ”
Now the work is almost complete on British designer Thomas Heatherwick's giant honeycomb of interlinked staircases, placed at the centre of the Hudson Yards.
Vanity Fair named Thomas Heatherwick "by almost any measure the hottest designer in the world today". NewYorker published an article about Heatherwick
Heatherwick was known in Britain for three striking but impermanent designs. His Shanghai Expo pavilion had a scheduled life of only six months. In 2002, for a site in Manchester, Heatherwick Studio had created B of the Bang, a two-hundred-foot-tall cluster of metal spikes emanating from the top of a column, to suggest a midair explosion.
Heatherwick designed the cauldron for Olympic Games 2012 , and he made a sensation out of it. Discounting a recommendation from officials that it should have no moving parts, he provided the opening ceremony with a moment of high emotion. The cauldron looked like something that should malfunction, yet it worked. Today, the Museum of London has a permanent exhibition celebrating the design.
Heatherwick's Vessel , the centerpiece of Hudson Yards, rises 16 stories and consists of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings.
Vessel will eventually be surrounded by a public plaza and gardens, and visitors will be able to climb its metal-clad staircases for better views of the area. The steps are arranged in layers that widen from a hexagonal base that measures 50 feet (15 metres) in diameter to a top layer that is 150 feet (46 metres) across.
Heatherwick who built Vessel said the idea for the structure, which resembles an endless stair by Dutch graphic artist M C Escher, came from when he found an abandoned flight of wooden stairs as a student. Heatherwick also said that his monumental honeycomb was inspired by the ancient stepwells of India—gargantuan wells built with staircases zigzagging down their sides to allow access to deep water.
What he did, in effect, was to turn the stepwell inside out, lifting it above ground and making it into vertical public space.
“I fell in love instantly,” Ross told the New Yorker. “My guys around here thought I was out of my goddamn mind. It was too big, too this, too that. ‘How are we going to build it?’ ‘What’s it going to cost?’ I said, ‘I don’t care.’”