Dezeen Magazine

Thomas Heatherwick designed the Vessel to "bring people together"

Thomas Heatherwick explains his desire for the recently opened Vessel, at the Hudson Yards development, to become a unique public destination in this video.

Designed by his London practice Heatherwick Studio, the giant honeycomb-like sculpture comprises a mile of publicly accessible walkways.

Temporarily called Vessel, the viewpoint forms the centrepiece of the new Hudson Yards development in New York, positioned above active railway lines in the West Side neighbourhood.

Vessel at Hudson Yards by Heatherwick Studio
Vessel is the centrepiece of Hudson Yards in New York

"I hope this will be a fresh moment," said Heatherwick in the video.

"For us it was interesting that there was this level of serious interest by the people making this new quarter in New York to try to make something that would not be a duplication of somewhere else, and would offer something that was hopefully unique to people," he continued.

Vessel at Hudson Yards by Heatherwick Studio
The structure comprises a mile of publicly accessible walkways

Heatherwick Studio designed the Escher-like lattice of staircases to encourage public interaction and bring people together, rather than creating an object purely to be looked at.

"Our ambition from very early on was about intensity, socialisation, and making a heart to Hudson Yards, but not in a passive way," explained the studio's partner, Stuart Wood.

"Could you make something amazing that people can touch and use, instead of things they just look at and clap their hands and admire?" Heatherwick added.

Vessel and The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards
Heatherwick Studio designed the sculpture to bring people together

The studio referenced three-dimensional public spaces when designing the sculpture, including stepwells – a type of well that originated in India that is accessed by descending a set of steps to the water level.

The resulting structure is narrow at its base, before expanding to a height and width of 45 metres.

"This idea emerged, influenced in part by some stunning images we found of the stepwell that exist in India, in Rajasthan, which were a way that people could get down to water," Heatherwick explained.

"We wondered if you could create, in a sense, an amphitheatre for people, that brought people together."

Its design references three-dimensional public spaces like stepwells in India

Vessel opened last weekend along with the rest of the plaza and gardens, and the retail and entertainment provision at Hudson Yards phase one. It was later revealed that the company responsible for running the public structure is planning to maintain rights to any photography taken of it, prompting outcry from critics.

Critic Alan G Brake also shared his thoughts on the Hudson Yards development in an opinion column, saying that it "is all shine and no substance".