L'Observatoire was engaged by Related Companies and Heatherwick Studio to develop a lighting design concept for the Hudson Yards Vessel. The Vessel, which will serve as the centerpiece for the Public Square and Gardens at Hudson Yards, is an interactive monument consisting of 154 flights, 2,500 steps and 80 landings. It is constructed of a structural painted steel frame, with underside surfaces covered by a polished copper-colored steel skin.
As the structure is being assembled in a piece-by-piece manner, the lighting must be integrated in to each segment in a unitized fashion. This modular approach required unique systems for connecting the fixtures with both the frame and each other. Another objective of the lighting concept was to create an uninterrupted and glare free view from the platform by ensuring each fixture is installed below eye level. This required the integration of fixtures into architectural and structural elements such as handrails.
In order to create the effect of a Vessel that contains some other material within, a combination of colors and finishes are used to create a distinction between the structure's exterior and the inside. The Vessel's outside or surface is intended to have a white glow, while the interior will reflect the copper light of the finish. Achievement of this contrast presented a challenge in that the steel finish creates a glossy surface that does not hold light well. New angles were explored to overcome this, along with a balance of concealed and revealed fixtures.