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Home / Business / Thomas Heatherwick and the vessel: The British designer's tough public art project on New York's Hudson Yards

Thomas Heatherwick and the vessel: The British designer's tough public art project on New York's Hudson Yards



It is the centerpiece of the largest and most expensive private property development in American history. "Vessel" was unveiled this week, the sculpture in the middle of Hudson Yards, a large new 16-building complex on the West Side of Manhattan.

Honeycombed flight of fancy – actually made of 154 flights of stairs – was perceived by the 49-year-old British designer Thomas Heatherwick.

  vessel-hudson-yards-sunset-620.jpg
Designer Thomas Heatherwick "Vessel" is the centerpiece of Hudson Yards development in New York City.

CBS News


Correspondent Anthony Mason asked, "When you spend six years on something, how does it feel to reach a moment like this?"

"Architectural design is a very fun thing," he replied. "When I was a kid, I used to think," How do people stay committed to an idea for six years? How can architects wait? "

The first pieces" Vessel "were put in place in April 2017, four years after Heatherwick first imagined it. That summer, Heatherwick flew in from London to check the progress, inspecting his creations with almost he had just seen it on a computer until then, now, when it became a reality, he described it as "the greatest excitement possible."

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CBS News


"This is the kind of center of a new city, a small town?" Mason asked.

"Her job is to be the heart. And I wanted it to be something people could use and touch and not something they just look at."

Heatherwick Studio in London, with its team of more than 200 artists, architects and designers, has dreamed up spinning chairs; redesigned the classic London bus; created a rolling bridge that rolls down; and perceived the 2012 London Olympics boiler.

A British designer's innovative vision

"It's very important to be scared all the time to become your own clique," Heatherwick said.

"Equality is your enemy?" Asked Mason.

"Well, why do something if it already exists?"

Heatherwick has another New York project in the works: Pier 55, a park and theater on the pilings of the Hudson River, now under construction less than a mile from Hudson Yards.

The developer of Hudson Yards, Stephen Ross, had an immediate bond with the designer: "You are the creative genius," he told the designer. "You see things that others don't."

The 78-year-old billionaire, who also owns the Miami Dolphins, first saw Heatherwick's "Vessel" proposal six years ago. He was sold immediately.

Mason asked him, "What did you love about it?"

"I loved the fact that it's so iconic," Ross replied. "You wouldn't come to New York, you know, without going to the top of it."

The cost of the 150 meter long sculpture? Over $ 150 million.

The 87 carbon steel pieces that fill vessels were prefabricated at a factory in Italy, then sent to the United States, to Newark Harbor, where they were loaded onto a barge and pressed up the Hudson River.

  thomas-heatherwick-ship-welders-in-italy-620.jpg
Welders in Italy make the interlocking pieces that will make up Thomas Heatherwick's "vessel".

CBS News


From the quay they were driven at night to the construction site.

This week, when workers put the last pieces in place, Stuart Wood, Heatherwick Studio & # 39; s pointman for the "Vessel" project, took Mason to the very best

Our frail correspondent asked, "Why is it I don't feel like I climbed 16 stories? "

"Well, that's because there's a lot to look at," Wood said. "Ironically, unlike a normal building, it gets lighter the higher you go. The stairs are shallow.

" We think of this as a three-dimensional public space, like a park, but higher. "

  vessel -hudson-yards-stairs-620.jpg Visitors in the" Vessel. "

CBS News


Tickets are free, but entry will be limited to 700 visitors at a time. The "Vessel" creator awaits his reviews.

Mason asked Heatherwick, "How would you judge it for success?"

"Success is a very fun thing isn't it? We can't predict how people will use it. It only is . And what's happening now is nothing to do with me."


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History produced by Jon Carras.


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