The Vessel

A few years ago, The Vessel was installed at Hudson Yards. The vessel is a structure with multiple sets of stairs that visitors are encouraged to climb. It is considered to be “interactive artwork”.

Fine.

The Vessel opened on March 15, 2019.

Since it opened, three people have committed suicide by jumping off the structure.

As of late January 2021, The Vessel is closed to the public.

Was it irresponsible to build a piece of interactive artwork that people could possibly use to jump from?

The artwork is 150 feet high. While there are railings, there are no safety fences that would stop someone from climbing atop the railings and jumping.

Should we build a structure that has no safety features because gates and fences would be aesthetically displeasing?

What is the line between builder responsibility and user responsibility? When we create something, how much do we consider how it will be used?

Is art exempt from practicality because it is art?

Should The Vessel be permanently closed to the public?

To what lengths do we go to create a view?

I know. I know. So many questions.

I’ve climbed The Vessel twice, once with my Goddaughter and once with my family. It was quite fun to go inside the beehive like structure, go to different vantage points and take pictures of the Hudson, New Jersey and parts of Manhattan. It’s pretty to look at. This weekend we are going to a restaurant which prides itself on its views of The Vessel. I understand why it was created and built. But should more consideration be taken when building what is essentially an attraction?

So give me any and all thoughts on this subject.

Is this something you would like to visit on a trip to NYC? Or is this something that should never have been built?

80 thoughts on “Don’t Build it so they won’t come

  1. Saw it last time I was in NY but didn’t climb it as I don’t like heights. Any structure should conform to building regulations but, sadly, you won’t stop people using it for another purpose. People leap from bridges, buildings, throw themselves under trains etc The way to try snd prevent this is more widely available assistance and support with mental health issues.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agreed on mental health issues, but we need to do more than just hand out anti depressant people dispensers. But that’s a whole other blog. I don’t like the idea of suicide, but I also don’t like closing the structure either

      Liked by 3 people

      1. unless they help level someone out. I hate the side effects of head meds but the multiple meds my wife takes for being bipolar…Without them…There would be far more trips to the hospital for suicide attempts. So, for her at least, I’m glad the meds help

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      2. If they are truly needed they’re wonderful. But I think we overprescribe because it’s easy. We take a good necessary thing, and then we blow it up

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  2. I remember seeing that being built the last time I was in the city. I am not a fan of heights so I’m not sure about climbing it. I don’t agree with closing it. People here commit suicide by jumping in front of trains. You can’t stop the trains

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The thing about suicide or self harm is, you can’t completely take away the risk. A person who cuts but has no more access to scissors, knives or razors blades can unscrew a light bulb or break a mirror or take a screw from inside or outside a home…so build fences if you want. A suicidal person who wants to jump will find another way. 😥

    I’d visit the structure but I think it’s ugly. Which doesn’t mean I’m not attracted to it as a tourist, or from the perspective of an artist. What were they thinking? Why build it, or that way? I find that part fascinating.

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  4. It’s reminds me of a beehive, and no I would avoid it as I hate heights. Should it be shutdown: No. As Claudette said, if self-harm is the intent, a way will be found.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I still remember the first time I saw it. Of course it’s a unique idea, but my husband and I had a conversation about the expense and safety of it. It wasn’t long after that the news articles started coming out about the suicides. Just horrible. It does seem like something they should’ve taken into consideration; although, I’m not sure what they could’ve done differently. You definitely can’t control someone who wants to die, or someone who wants to kill others for that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you build a structure like that, at some point it has to enter your mind that people might jump off it. That’s just logical,thinking. But can we do and not do things because people might not treat it and themselves respectfully? I don’t know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We can always make those decisions, but the end result may end up with people doing without. I can’t say I agree with that either. We have a huge mental health crisis in this country which causes so much harm every single day. To me it starts there.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sometimes people jump off of parking garage levels, the high up ones. That doesn’t stop the garages from being built. As for intentionally seeing this object whilst visiting NYC, I wouldn’t do that– but I have no opinion about whether it should have been built. Not my circus, not my monkeys.

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  7. What a sad legacy for the building as it looks so interesting and while I’m not a fan of heights, I’d probably try to climb for the views. As for people who take their lives, that’s just heartbreaking.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think people might believe that since art doesn’t serve a “purpose” then it should be shut down, as opposed to parking garages and the like. Nature has given us cliffs and other dangerous ways to endanger lives so I think it is a moot point. I saw this on TV during project runway and thought it was beautiful. I feel bad that people have used it to end their lives and I feel bad for the artist who created it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I wouldn’t visit it as I don’t like heights. It is probably somewhat irresponsible that no one thought of the danger aspect, but I wonder if this architectural wonder could be salvaged if they extended the railing part higher or maybe put it all the way up to the next level. From a long ago visit, to the Empire State Building, (my height phobia only developed after 911), I remember the railings there being higher?? Do they have people jump from there too?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Art for art’s sake is one thing. The second it encompasses more than just something to look at or experience (such as movies or music or plays), then you must take into consideration the ways that art is interacted with and create accordingly. It would be like me creating a piece of jewelry that may be beautiful to look at but impossible to ever actually wear because of weight or functionality issues that prevent it. It may still be art, but it is also more than just that and that must be considered. For this particular piece, I have to wonder if it met building and safety codes. If not, who determined that it wasn’t required and why? Did it not have to because it was labeled as art? A piece of art that allows people to climb all over it in the same fashion as they would a building, should meet basic building code standards of safety. It’s like not having safety features on an amusement park ride because they say it is art and not a ride. Maybe it did meet those standards. If so, you have to wonder if the standards are at fault. There is often fencing placed around bridges that can be accessed on foot to prevent people from being able to go over the sides for that very reason. I guess I just wonder how this design could have been seen and approved with no one considering the possibility of people using for something other than its intended purpose and attempts made to ensure that doesn’t happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw a preview for a documentary the other day…”we saw the world the way we wanted to see it, not the way it actually was”, and I think that applies here. But then you get into the over policing if things…when is it too much control? But that’s a whole other post

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  11. I think it’s a beautiful structure. But as others are saying, if someone wants to commit suicide, they will find a way. By closing this building, they didn’t prevent people from committing suicide. They just got rid of an extra option.

    It would be a shame to close it permanently. Is that what they are planning?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes,it’s not quite safe.Basically they are trusting people’s willingness-to or not to😆.Is it beautiful enough to visit again and again ..umm maybe.NYC already has too many buildings. As a traveller I would like more of nature there , though we have the Central park

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  13. That’s very saddening. For such an impressive piece of art, or an amazing piece of architecture, this is such a shame. It’s really sad that people have taken their lives from this structure, but also a shame for the designers who undoubtedly put their heart and soul into this design.

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  14. The Space Needle in Seattle has fencing on the observation decks, they’ve had one suicide since the safety fence was added in the 1980s. Two prior. I am against shutting down the artwork. People will commit suicide whether or not they shut it down.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. People are going to do whatever. We were in Reno once and a guy jumped from the top of the parking garage across the street. We didn’t see the jump but saw the body. Sad. I’d go see the structure. If I’m going to New York I wanna see everything I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s the thing….what is the actual responsibility of anyone creating anything? It could be said that we shouldn’t create anything because it could be used as a weapon. When do things become over regulated?

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Does it have a roof? Where does the rainwater go? Shopping centres have been designed for years so that people could not jump from the third floor to the first internally for decades so I can’t see that The Vessel would have gained building approval here. It seems such a waste of space when we see so many sleeping rough…….but I digress.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Hmmmm. It seems like the architects could have incorporated some kind of safety measure into the overall design of the building. I am curious about the thought process to build something that height in NYC without such consideration. Yet, we build bridges that way, and that height. Hmmmm…. Not sure about this one, LA. I will say that when I am next in NYC, I will not visit this “attraction.” Too many other cool things to do.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Not sure what the answer is but we’ve had a similar cenario in Oxford, Carfax Tower with it’s breathtaking views across the dreaming Spires Oxford been closed due to suicides……….. the irony is, for similar views you now have climb the Medieval Hangman’s Hill!

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  19. It’s really cool. When you design a building you shouldn’t have to worry about if people are going to jump from it. That kinda is a buzz kill for the creative progress. There is a clinic in town where the 2nd and 3rd floors over look the lobby and someone jumped from the third floor and died. Who would have thought? I don’t think of suicide so I dont think of those things.

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  20. You know, that’s the first thing I thought about when we were last in New York. I was praying that we wouldn’t witness anyone jumping.

    I don’t think you can prevent anyone from self-harming, but I think we need to be upfront and real with people in need of help.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I have no idea what the answer is to your question. Does society have an obligation to make sure everyone is completely safe all the time? It can’t be done. Should the architects have thought of this scenario? Hindsight is always 20/20. I agree, if someone wants to commit suicide, they will find a way to do it, regardless of safety measures in place. It’s extremely sad but this is a dark part of the human mind that are deep-seated issues that should have been addressed long before they got to the structure. Short of enclosing the entire outside in glass, I don’t know the answer.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. It definitely should have been built. It brings many people joy, I’m sure. I also have little doubt that the people who designed and built it are saddened by its unintended use. Seems the happy medium would be to add additional safety measures. Sad, though, in general. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think someone intent on killing themselves will find a way, whether it be a bridge, a building, pills, or a gun. We can’t modify every structure and policy to ensure a suicidal person doesn’t use it for their own purposes. What we need is better and easily accessible mental health care but that’s a whole other can of worms. I think it’s a beautiful structure and as you say allows for a unusual experience and vantage. C

    Liked by 2 people

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