Vessel: The Newly-Opened Public Art Installation in NYC

Today’s lecture on public art has reminded me of the new art installation that debuted in the new Manhattan neighborhood, Hudson Yard. Conceived by British Designer Thomas Heatherwick, the Vessel has debuted with much fan fare on social media due to its sheer size and repetitious yet symmetrically satisfying design. I read more about the Vessel to understand how a public art installation becomes widely popular.

The repetition of staircases create distinct honeycomb pattern | Photo from from

In response to a question about the purpose of the Vessel, Heatherwick explained that he wanted his art installation to be “to be something that people could use and touch, and not something that they just sort of look at.” Heatherwick cunningly did this by designing a structure that people can climb. The blend of sheer height and futuristic look created by the copper plating, the Vessel entices people to come closer and walk up the structure.

British Designer Thomas Heatherwick inspect his work during the opening of the structure | Photo from

The developer of Hudson Yard, Stephen Ross, approved the construction of the $150 million piece back in 2012 because the design was so iconic. He explained that the impression he got from the design was that “you wouldn’t come to New York … without wanting to walk to the top of it.” Ross may be right because as of now, free tickets available on the Hudson Yard website to visit and climb the structure is already sold out for the maximum availability for the next two weeks.

With the Vessel at the heart of the new neighborhood, Hudson Yard projects a modern Manhattan | Photo from

From reading about the Vessel, I learned that a public art installation needs to be thought-provoking enough to grab the attention of people who pass by. The piece needs to give a reason for people to be curious and want to interact with it. With this in mind, I hope to emulate the success of Heatherwick at a smaller scale and design a public art installation that can generate notable buzz.

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