Thomas Heatherwick’s latest design, titled ‘Vessel’, was unveiled in New York last week. It depicts an enormous honeycomb-like structure with a free-standing collection of multi-level staircases.
But the scheme is set to attract a buzz of criticism and has already been questioned by sources across the pond.
“It [Vessel] appears to be ugly, boring, and largely pointless. It is an absurd amount of money for an artwork,” writes Art News.
A New York Times article labelled Heatherwick's design a ‘stairway to nowhere’.
However, it seems those backing the project are prepared for any backlash.
At the project’s unveiling, mayor of New York Bill de Blasio said: “If you meet 100 New Yorkers, you will find 100 different opinions on the beautiful work you’ve created. Do not be dismayed”.
The 16-storey structure will sit at the centre of New York's Hudson Yards, on the west side of Manhattan, and is set to cost $150m (£114m ) - twice the original $75m planned cost.
Heatherwick said: “We didn’t have an unlimited budget, but no corners have been cut”, adding that ‘Vessel’ was sturdy enough to “take Hurricane Sandy”.
Described as ‘a new public gathering place’, the sculpture will be made up of a total of 154 staircases – almost 2,500 individual steps – and 80 landings, offering the public “new ways to look at New York” says Heatherwick.
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The sculpture is currently under construction in Italy, but will not be assembled on site until 2017.
The Simpsons' famous 'Monorail' episode about vanity projects closed with visions of an 'escalator to nowhere'.