Manhattan Vessel to reopen with enhanced security

THE Vessel, an imposing structure in Manhattan's Hudson Yards neighborhood, will reopen later this year with enhanced security measures. The sculpture, 45 meters high, had been closed to the public since July 2021 after the suicide of four visitors in the space of eighteen months. It will now be equipped with a steel net to prevent people from jumping.

The company Related Companies, which is responsible for the real estate development of the district, specified that steel mesh fences going from floor to ceiling will be installed at almost all levels and that this mesh cannot be cut or removed by the visitors. It ensures that these barriers will protect four stairwells and their adjoining platforms, without impacting the appearance of the construction and the panoramic view it offers of the city. The first two levels will be entirely open to the public, but the upper level will remain closed since it would be impossible to ensure its security.

Since its inauguration in 2019, many visitors and specialists have been alarmed by the dangerousness of the Vessel (“ship” in French). The immense labyrinthine beehive-shaped structure, designed by English designer Thomas Heatherwick (born 1970), has 154 flights of interconnected stairs and 80 landings demarcated by relatively low barriers, which stop at mid-section .

After a third suicide in January 2021, the Vessel had closed its doors for the first time before reopening them four months later, with insufficiently reinforced security. A rule against climbing the stairs unaccompanied had been imposed – it will no longer be enforced – but the barriers had not been raised to chest height despite numerous requests. The suicide of a 14-year-old boy two months later prompted stricter security measures to be put in place to prevent further tragedies.

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