You could be forgiven for assuming that Heatherwick Studio's Vessel, the unusual staircase/art installation unveiled last year, wouldn't actually be built – its size and ambitious nature lent it a distinct never going to happen vibe. However, the project has indeed begun construction in New York and is expected to open in late 2018.

Looking a little like a real life M.C. Escher artwork, Vessel will serve as the remarkable centerpiece of a new public square and gardens at Manhattan's Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the history of the USA.

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According to the New York Times, the price tag for the public artwork will come in at an eye-watering US$150 million. Rising to a total height of 150 ft (45 m), the steel structure will comprise 54 interconnecting flights of stairs, 2,500 individual steps, and 80 landings.

It's being fabricated in Italy by steel manufacturer Cimolai, so must be shipped to Manhattan's West Side in sections and assembled. The steel first journeys for 15 days by ship, then after arriving stateside, changes to a barge at the Port of Newark. It then crosses the Hudson River, before finally being unloaded and placed into position by crane.

The first 10 of a total of 75 sections have been delivered so far, with the remaining pieces due to arrive over the coming months.

Whether Vessel is an example of frivolous excess or a unique work of art that locals will enjoy for decades is up for debate. Perhaps it's both. Certainly it'll have its detractors, but Heatherwick has enjoyed a far warmer reception in the Big Apple than in his native London, where the designer's Garden Bridge looks likely to be canceled amid outcry over its cost.

Anyone in the area of the High Line and Hudson Park and Boulevard at West 34th Street is encouraged to watch Vessel being constructed. It's going to be quite a sight as it starts to take shape and will be open to everyone once complete.

"This is a special moment as Vessel begins being assembled at Hudson Yards," says Thomas Heatherwick in a press release. "As one of the most complex and ambitious pieces of steelwork ever made, the next months will provide a one-off opportunity to see a future extraordinary structure emerge for New York. There are so many buildings and projects I wish I saw being made. So, for those who are interested, I hope it will turn out to have been worth heading up onto the High Line to catch a glimpse of the complex geometry being pieced together like an incredible jigsaw puzzle."

Source: Hudson Yards

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