Photo © James and Karla Murray for 6sqft
The 150-foot climbable sculpture in Hudson Yards may shut down permanently after a teenager jumped to his death from the structure on Thursday. Vessel, an interactive public art piece designed by Thomas Heatherwick that opened in 2019 as the centerpiece of the $25 billion development, temporarily closed in January after three suicides, reopening a few months later with a new “buddy system.” The death of a 14-year-old boy on Thursday marks the fourth suicide at Vessel in less than two years.
Stephen Ross, the chair of Related Companies, the developer of Hudson Yards, told the Daily Beast in an interview that the installation may close permanently after this most recent tragedy.
“We thought we did everything that would really prevent this,” Ross told the Daily Beast. “It’s hard to really fathom how something like that could happen. But you know, I feel terrible for the family.”
Related temporarily closed Vessel to the public in January after a 21-year-old man from Texas jumped to his death from the steel and concrete honeycomb-shaped sculpture. That death came just a few weeks after a 24-year-old Brooklyn woman died by suicide the same way in December last year.
The first suicide at Vessel was reported in February of 2020 when a 19-year-old from New Jersey jumped from the structure. After this first death, Manhattan Community Board 4 asked Related to take steps to prevent further loss of life at Vessel.
In a March 2020 letter to the real estate developer, board members Lowell Kern and Jean Daniel Noland wrote that the barriers of the structure should be raised. “Because the Vessel’s chest-high barrier is all that separates the platform from the edge, the likelihood of a similar, terribly sad loss of life cannot be ignored,” Kern and Noland wrote.
During the structure’s closure, the developer said it consulted with psychiatrists and suicide-prevention experts to develop a plan to prevent any future suicides.
But instead of raising the barriers as requested by the community board, Related reopened Vessel this past May with new protocols, like prohibiting solo visitors and adding more trained staff and security. The attraction also began charging $10, after being free to climb since it opened.
A Heatherwick Studio employee told the New York Times that the architects had “designed safety barriers for the Vessel” and that “it’s now time to install these.”
Vessel and the public plaza surrounding it will be temporarily closed as officials decide whether or not to reopen it. Related pledges to conduct a full investigation of the incident.
“I want to see every possibility we can do,” Ross told the Daily Beast. “I mean, we thought we had covered everything.”
- Hudson Yards’ Vessel will reopen with a buddy system in place
- Hudson Yards’ 150-foot Vessel temporarily closes after third suicide
Neighborhoods : hudson yards