September 18, 2019

The Vessel and the End of Architecture

“THE VESSEL IS REALLY A PERFECT NAME for the sixteen-story monument nestled in the midst of the now complete “neighborhood” (read: real estate scheme) of Hudson Yards, New York City. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, one of architecture’s premier grifters, a man who should be banned internationally from using the term “parti,” the Vessel is composed of 154 flights of stairs, 2,500 steps, and 80 landings. Apparently the architect drew inspiration from an early experience with, to nobody’s surprise, an old staircase. The depth of architectural thinking at work here makes a kiddie-pool seem oceanic.

The Vessel is a structure that invites parody—it has already been likened to a giant shawarma, a beehive, a pine cone, a wastebasket. Apparently, there is to be a competition for a new name, as “The Vessel” was only supposed to be a temporary one. It really is the perfect name, however, not least because it implies a certain emptiness. One asks, though, what it is a vessel for?

It is a Vessel for the depths of architectural cynicism, of form without ideology and without substance: an architectural practice that puts the commodifiable image above all else, including the social good, aesthetic expression, and meaningful public space. It is a Vessel for the architecture of views, perhaps the hottest spatial commodity of all.”

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