When Related Companies unveiled Vessel, the sculptural staircase at the heart of the Hudson Yards megaproject, chairman Stephen Ross said he hoped it would become as iconic and beloved as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree — or even the Eiffel Tower.
But five years, three deaths and one pandemic later, the Thomas Heatherwick–designed attraction hasn’t lived up to those ambitions. It has been closed since the third suicide at the sculpture, but now Related will reopen it with changes.
The New York Post reported that the Vessel will welcome visitors back Friday, more than three months after a 21-year-old man leapt to his death from the structure in January. New measures will be in place: Related is tripling security staff and will add signage that includes messaging from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. And visitors will no longer be allowed to come alone.
The once-free attraction will now have a $10 visitors’ fee that Related told the Post will go toward covering the cost of the new security.
Related reportedly spent $200 million to construct the 150-foot-tall structure, which opened in 2019. Plexiglass barriers line the stairs that lead to the top of the structure, but only reach about chest height at their tallest points. The local community board had reportedly suggested increasing their height to prevent future deaths.
Other landmarks have implemented such measures. The Empire State Building has a suicide prevention barrier around its observation deck. At the George Washington Bridge, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey installed an 11-foot fence and netting.
Hudson Yards opened to the public in 2019, only to see foot traffic and visitors to its public spaces — including Vessel and the adjacent shopping center — plummet when the pandemic hit. Related recently took out a condo inventory loan on 15 Hudson Yards, one of the residential towers within the development; 102 of its units reportedly remain unsold.
[NYP] — Amy Plitt
Those who are having thoughts of suicide are encouraged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or contact the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.