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29 March 2019

The Antisocial Stairway of Hudson Yards

Excerpted from the story in Curbed by Karrie Jacobs:

“….Later, I checked with a publicist at the Related Companies, the developer of Hudson Yards, to find out whether there were plans to install any sort of seating. Not inside Vessel, I was told. But she emailed me a rendering of a sleek 200-foot-long bench that will someday trace the curve of an exquisitely landscaped slice of the plaza below. It seems I was confused by de Blasio’s earlier praise; the plaza may eventually be a great public space, but never Vessel.

Which is a shame. While going up and down flights of stairs, I was reminded of another frequently derided, tourist-saturated part of Manhattan. I’m thinking, of course, of Times Square, which has been remade in recent years in large part by another flashy, destination staircase.

Built from translucent structural glass, the 16-foot-tall Red Steps was the winner of a 1999 competition sponsored by Van Alen Institute to replace the trailer that had been dispensing half-price theater tickets since the 1970s. (The TKTS booth is now housed beneath the steps). Designed by an obscure Australian firm, Choi Ropiha (now renamed CHROFI), it opened in 2008. The steps accommodate an estimated 13,000 people a day. Many of them, like Vessel visitors, are just in it for the selfies. But some people actually take the opportunity to sit and study the spectacle before them….”