Hudson Yards, New York City’s $25 billion complex, gets mixed reviews


New York’s $25 billion Hudson Yards development is open to the public. People lined up Friday to climb the 2,500 steps to the top of a massive sculpture named Vessel. (March 15)

“Hudson Yards has become the cultural center of Manhattan’s New West Side,” the $25 billion urban complex’s website notes − though it seems that depends on what one defines as New York culture.

The new complex “is the largest real estate development” in the city since Rockefeller Center was built in the 1930s, according to the New York Transit Museum. It includes everything from condos to clothing stores to restaurants, as well as eye-catching installations, including a large spiral staircase dubbed the “Vessel,” which includes 154 interconnecting flights of stairs.

For all its ambition, the complex has its share of critics.

“The physical space Hudson Yards has created is ostentatious and energizing, but the social space it has created is illusory and inauthentic,” write infrastructure consultants Ellis Talton and Remington Tonar in Forbes. “A truly equitable space, one that honors the values of eclecticism and imperfection that have made New York great, would be less concerned about matching the grandeur of Dubai or Singapore and more focused on matching the dynamism of New York City culture. This can certainly be done on a grandiose and spectacular scale, but the architectural approach needs to be social not just structural.”

The New York Times‘ Michael Kimmelman puts in more bluntly: “It is, at heart, a supersized suburban-style office park, with a shopping mall and a quasi-gated condo community targeted at the 0.1 percent.”

People couldn’t help poke fun of Hudson Yards (and the Vessel specifically, with Eater calling it a giant shawarma, for instance).

“‘The Vessel’at Hudson Yards, a $200 million staircase that doesn’t actually take you anywhere, owns every photo you take inside it,” Scott Bixby wrote on Twitter.

“Now that we’re seeing Hudson Yards is a dystopian playground for the dull rich we should note that’s exactly what Amazon’s Queens campus would’ve been like,” wrote another user.

“Unless you were like professionally required to be there or dropped off a couple dozen rats for fun I don’t understand why anyone went to Hudson Yards,” wrote poster Heidi Vanderlee.

Not everyone was as harsh. The New York Post praised the Vessel, for instance, in a headline: “Why the Hudson Yards Vessel is $200M worth of glistening glory,” and author Zachary Kussin wrote, ” … the cherry on top comes at the summit, 150 feet above ground, when you suddenly see the spire of the Empire State Building.”

And some social media users actually liked Hudson Yards.

“We came We climbed #TheVessel And I got my 10,000 steps,” wrote Monica Kirkland.

User Christina Cuevas wrote: “#HudsonYards looks breathtakingly beautiful and I need to go asap.”


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