Arup worked with renowned designer Thomas Heatherwick to achieve his singular vision for “Vessel”— a large-scale steel sculpture that serves as the centrepiece of Hudson Yards, Manhattan’s sprawling mixed-use development. This 16-story “vertical public space” features 154 open-air stairways and landings that gradually spiral upwards to 150ft, offering shifting views of the 28-acre development and the river beyond it.
Developer Related Companies commissioned Arup to provide an array of engineering and consulting services on the $200m design-build project, including pedestrian planning, mechanical, electrical and public health engineering, information and communications technology (ICT), security, acoustics and public address design services.
150ft tall sculpture
Effective solutions grounded in best practice
Vessel’s Escheresque architecture defies conventional design norms, which prompted the Arup team to return to fundamental design principles to devise integrated engineering solutions that supported Heatherwick’s vision while meeting performance requirements in an efficient manner. Arup used special analysis methodologies to evaluate the systems’ thermal stresses, energy performance, and intelligibility of the public address (PA) system for messaging and music in a dense urban environment and complex spatial forms.
Mass Motion: 3D modelling software streamlines pedestrian planning
Arup used MassMotion, our proprietary 3D pedestrian modelling software, to analyse the movements of visitors. This robust modelling program allowed Arup’s planners to predict the impact of the structure’s unique stair and landing arrangement on egress times. Once occupancy limits were clearly established, we developed a simplified, replicable, and visually compelling evacuation analyses to inform emergency safety planning.
An experienced delivery partner with international reach
The client selected the Italian firm Cimolai to fabricate Vessel in their Monfalcone factory, east of Venice. The complex construction process required the team to consider how best to support prefabrication, shipping and erection while at the same time optimizing long-term operations and maintenance. Arup’s tailored solutions were installed, pre-wired and tested in the factory. To expedite delivery of the sculpture’s 86 modules, Arup’s New York-based team enlisted colleagues from our Milan office to perform onsite inspections at the factory. Designers from Arup’s London office also provided key technical and coordination input during the early stages of design.
The Vessel opened in March 2019 and has already become a prime tourist destination that continues to spark lively discussions among both casual visitors and design professionals.