New Yorkers invited to step up for never-ending stairway trail

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Vessel will comprise a 150-ft (46-m) tall "geometric lattice of intersecting flights of stairs"(Credit: Forbes Massey)

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New York's developing Hudson Yards neighborhood, of which High Line at the Rail Yards is already a part, will soon be home to a new public space with a unique artwork. The Vessel will comprise a 150-ft (46-m) tall "geometric lattice of intersecting flights of stairs" designed for climbing and exploring.

The public space, to be known as Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards, has been designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape in collaboration with Heatherwick Studio. Both the gardens and the Vessel installation are intended to provide new gathering and meeting spaces for New Yorkers and for visitors to the city.

The development will cover more than 5 acres (2 ha), made up of plazas, gardens and groves, and will create a continuous chain of open spaces from Gansevoort Street to Times Square, connecting with the High Line to its south and west and with Hudson Park & Boulevard to its north. Hudson Yards says this will make it "the largest network of public spaces developed in Manhattan since Central Park."

The centerpiece Vessel is described by Hudson Yards as "a new kind of public landmark," while Thomas Heatherwick, founder of Heatherwick Studio, says the concept was inspired by a discarded flight of wooden stairs he found on a building site during his student days.

"It caught my imagination and I loved that is was part furniture and part infrastructure," explains Heatherwick. "You could climb up stairs, jump on them, dance on them, get tired on them and then plonk yourself down on them. Years later, suddenly here was an opportunity to make a new kind of landmark for Hudson Yards."

Heatherwick goes on to say that his team explored the idea of whether something could be built in its entirety out of flights of stairs, the ultimate aim being to raise people up from the ground and give them different perspectives and views of the surrounding area and of each other.

"In a city full of eye-catching structures, our first thought was that it shouldn't just be something to look at," he explains. "Instead we wanted to make something that everybody could use, touch, relate to."

The result will be a painted steel structure 50-ft (15-m) in diameter at its base that widens to a diameter of 150-ft (46-ft) at the top. It will comprise 154 flights of stairs in total, with almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings. There will be around a mile of pathways rising up from the ground to explore, with the views afforded to visitors changing as they move around.

The designs for Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards and for the Vessel were unveiled at an event in Manhattan yesterday.

The video below provides an introduction to Vessel.

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