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Behold, “The Vessel,” designed by one Thomas Heatherwick for the gigantic Hudson Yards apartment project on Manhattan’s West Side (developer: the Related Companies). This ridiculous “urban landmark” (so-called) will be 15 stories high, composed of 154 flights of stairs and 80 horizontal landings. Heatherwick says the idea is based on “the ancient step-wells of India.” Hmmmm, perhaps he should have shopped this “artwork” around the government offices at New Delhi. The sundry pieces of this monstrosity are being fabricated in Italy. The project is already 100 percent over its $75 million budget. Its completion will coincide with the next momentous real estate bust in New York City, and one can see how the Vessel will become the preferred suicide spot for ruined condominium buyers.


Compare with M.C. Escher!


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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

16 Responses to “October 2016”

  1. macseamus1 October 4, 2016 at 11:50 am #

    manifesting our boredom and aimlessness like a boss

  2. jayrome October 4, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    Another project of urban Uglification. Even vines can’t mask this pile of dung!
    Just because the backers have lotsa money shows they don’t have any taste. Its fabrication in Italy is suppose to give the project a fine art veneer?
    Well, I hope it fails spectacularly!

  3. Hughie the Sailor October 4, 2016 at 6:25 pm #

    OK Jim:

    You win – this is vastly worse than the mercifully-crushed Chateau Laurier coked-up fantasy I sent you. I hope Americans realize that this is merely a vast practical joke at your expense.

    I love the last picture. Escher would probably say; “wow – dudes you’re going too far!” Even if it’s possible that Heatherwick would hire one, an ethical architect intern involved in this debacle, bent on suicide as penance for the sins of his colleagues who helped create this, would have a difficult time figuring out how to kill himself by jumping off the….can there even be a”top” or “bottom” from which to jump? Maybe, as in the most recent Star Trek movie, the suicidal architect would, after launching himself into the void, just find himself floating somewhere near the …center?

  4. RobRhodes October 4, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

    Great, a place where the elite of our civilization can go climb the stairway to nowhere without getting the irony.

    My prediction for its actual use if they finish it: residents will ride down their elevators in track suits to use it as a luxury stair-climber.

  5. Peter VE October 5, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

    The step wells go down into the earth to give access to the water. These rise into the sky to give access to money.

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  6. Walter B October 6, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    If the spot where this is located happens to be NYC’s rectum then this Giant Pineapple jammed into it is pretty appropriate IMHO. Otherwise it is just another giant middle finger in the faces of Detroit and all of the other places, people, and retirement funds by the Wall Street Thieves that robbed them.

  7. Jim McCaffery October 11, 2016 at 9:06 am #

    In a few years it will look less like Escher and more like Piranesi: http://www.italianways.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/IW_Piranesi_Tav-XIV_ArcoGotico.jpg

    On the plus side, if I ever have the misfortune to be homeless in NYC, I’ll know where to go for a few hours of shuteye in relative peace and quiet. And I would be far from the only one.

  8. pequiste October 11, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    The differently-abled are going to be lining up with walkers, canes and wheel chairs for a super class action discrimination suit.

    And the maintenance staff, whew. I can see the crew asking “Um, like what do you mean there is no elevator in here? I ain’t climbing stairs constantly for an entire eight hours for 12 bucks an hour, no way in hell.”

  9. 154woodlawn October 14, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    I own a very nice condo in downtown Brooklyn, and it was built in an incredible “landmark” Skidmore Owings and Merrill energy efficient tower where a strip club used to stand. This neighborhood is incredibly happy and grateful to lose the strip club and have this green tower instead and crime has gone down substantially since the new condo buildings went up in this specific area.

    I have visited the ancient step wells in Jodhpur, India, and many and several other ancient step wells and ghat communities in India and Nepal and when I saw this rendering I immediately thought of the ancient step wells in Jodhpur…and was so excited for this building to be built in NYC.

    I grew up on a small equestrian farm in Charlton, then moved to downtown Saratoga Springs and went to Skidmore and I’ve spent lots of time in Saratoga County and Albany County and my family’s energy bills during the winter in our Saratoga House, we lived for years in an 1850 landmark house on Woodlawn, and our heating bills were $1,900 a month….basically for oil….for the boiler….and we had steam heat radiators…

    I am as liberal as they come….and as an environmentalist and liberal , I wish there was more respect by folks in rural areas for green buildings and condos…. energy efficient/green condos aren’t ruining the world or “people”…they are saving it….

  10. EGA October 15, 2016 at 12:49 am #

    It is a complete waste. Wait….. I think it is a sustainable design. 😉

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  11. Peter VE October 19, 2016 at 5:12 pm #

    I just realized how many many bodies can be strung up on this. Maybe every billionaire in NYC?

  12. psdt1969 June 21, 2021 at 6:00 pm #

    Yeah, somehow that seems to belong and fit in New York

  13. Dr. Coyote August 7, 2021 at 8:00 am #

    And here we are following the recent suicide of a 14yo visiting with family:

    What a mess.

  14. akbolt August 17, 2021 at 12:13 am #

    JHK: “one can see how the Vessel will become the preferred suicide spot for ruined condominium buyers.”

    Takimag: “The opening of the Vessel caused a light bulb to go on over the heads of New Yorkers: You can commit suicide by jumping from a tall structure. That this was a revelation isn’t surprising considering that these are the same geniuses who gave the nation bubonic plague rats, sewage rivers, and Bill de Blasio. So when the Vessel debuted in 2019, all it took was one guy to climb to the top and say, “Hey, lookit dis, I could totally jump to my death. Get a loada me; I’m sucha characta!”

    So one guy jumped. And then another. And then another. And then another.

    The Vessel closed in January because nobody could figure out how to keep the Bowery Boys from offing themselves. The brilliant minds behind the structure, including British architect Thomas Heatherwick (who designed Boris Johnson’s ill-fated Garden Bridge and the even more ill-fated Benny Hill Monument to Running in Fast Motion to “Yakety Sax”), gathered to figure out how to stop the denizens of the city that never sleeps from using the structure as a path to eternal sleep. And they came up with two crackerjack ideas: charge a fee to enter the Vessel (because no suicidal person will waste $10), and mandate that no one can enter the structure alone.

    And voilà! After the Vessel reopened in May, the next suicide was a 14-year-old kid who took the dive in front of his family, as he’d been unable to enter by himself. Thanks to the Vessel brainiacs and their New York smarts, that family not only lost a son, they gained a memory that will last a lifetime.

    And now the Vessel has closed again, and word is it might be demolished.”


    Such prescience Mr. Kunstler.


  1. How the Billionaire Class Destroys Cities | flying cuttlefish picayune - March 17, 2021

    […] James Howard Kunstler wrote about it also – Behold, “The Vessel,” designed by one Thomas Heatherwick for the gigantic Hudson Yards apartment… […]

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  2. June 2021 | Kunstler - June 3, 2021

    […] Island was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, same guy who designed The Vessel, featured as the October 2016 Eyesore of the […]