New York City’s Vertical Labyrinth

Vessel, the new urban project designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick, is a reference to Escher

A giant honeycomb, a 45-meter high steps labyrinth, a viewing platform that provides unusual perspectives in the heart of Hudson Yard, one of the fastest-changing areas of Manhattan. This is Vessel, the massive architecture designed to be climbed and explored with its 154 connecting flight of stairs and almost 2,500 steps on 80 landings, which offers more than a kilometer of raised path.

An architecture composed only of stairs, whose frame in steel, bronze and concrete clad with a copper-colored paint, contains nothing but itself and the landscape it shows. The honeycomb structure defines the central funnel-shaped space, from which the name – temporary – of Vessel derives, which will be replaced by voting, underlining the public nature of the project. Heatherwick Studio was specifically commissioned to design a landmark for Hudson Yards, able to welcome visitors and become a new gathering place.

As stated by Thomas Heatherwick: “We wanted to do something that everyone could use, touch”. A hybrid architecture, therefore, that encourages activity and participation. Vessel is part of the majestic redevelopment project of the area, a true city in the city with commercial and residential buildings designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SOM, KPF and Foster + Partners and a vast green area designed by the American landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, including gardens and woods with over 28,000 species including 200 mature and large trees.

[Luisa Castiglioni]

This article was published in DDN#248. Discover the latest issue and the special section dedicated to New York.

Discover New York: Times Square Becomes a Design Hub

Discover Design Diffusion Video News: New York, Motorcycles, Cinema

Discover Design Exhibitions in New York at MoMA and Cooper-Hewitt Museum

Discover Hotels in New York Offering Comfort, Luxury and Design

Related Articles


Agape: 50 years of excellence

“In realtà, volevamo fare dell’altro” (“Actually, we wanted to do something else”) is the title of the exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of Agape, a company founded on the banks of the Mincio River in 1973.

Read more »