In Brief

Hudson Yards' Vessel closed after third suicide

New York

14 January 2021

The Vessel, a spiral staircase designed by Thomas Heatherwick for New York's Hudson Yards, has closed after a third person in less than a year killed themselves by jumping from the structure.

The structure was closed after a 21-year-old man jumped to his death on Tuesday. In 2020, two people killed themselves by jumping from the Vessel.

Vessel was opened in 2019 as a central artistic element for the Hudson Yards development, a $25bn project that is the largest mixed-use private development in US history. From the beginning, however, critics had raised fears over elements of the design. Audrey Wachs, former associate editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, wrote in a 2016 critique: “As one climbs up Vessel, the railings stay just above waist height all the way up to the structure’s top, but when you build high, folks will jump.”

Related Companies, the developer of Hudson Yards, said that the Vessel was “temporarily closed” and did not provide further details as to when it may reopen. A spokesperson for Related said that it was consulting with suicide-prevention experts about how to limit the potential for more suicides.

Lowell Kern, chairman for the local community board, said that the board had first contacted Related about adopting measures to prevent additional suicides at the Vessel in 2020.

“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 wrote in a lettter, adding on Tuesday that the board believes that the best measure would be to increase the height of the structure's barrier: “That’s the only thing that’s going to work[...] After three suicides, at what point does the artistic vision take a back seat to safety?”