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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Edward Helmore in New York

New York’s Vessel to reopen with steel-mesh safety measures after suicides

Large climbable structure in New York with tall buildings behind it
The Vessel, in this 2019 picture. Photograph: Mark Lennihan/AP

The Vessel, the huge climbable centerpiece of New York’s upmarket Hudson Yards development that saw a number of suicides, is set to reopen later this year with new safety features, according to developers.

The 150ft sculpture, designed by Thomas Heatherwick and built at a cost of $260m, was closed three years ago after four people jumped to their deaths. Besides overall criticism of its design – including descriptions of it as a giant gold doner kebab rotisserie – the construction was grimly described to the Guardian as “staircase to nowhere”.

Before its closure, Related Companies, the company that controls Hudson Yards, imposed a $10 entrance fee and a rule requiring that visitors do not climb the structure alone. But that plan proved unsuccessful when a 14-year-old boy jumped in front his family.

The first suicide from the Vessel occurred in February 2020. The sculpture was closed the following year after two people killed themselves in the space of a month. After it reopened, and a fourth suicide took place, the Vessel’s operator was criticized for not raising its chest-high barriers as community leaders and suicide-prevention researchers had requested.

Despite the Vessel’s popularity on Instagram, the website Curbed said it had become “famous largely as a place of death”.

But now the developers have said it will reopen this later year with new safety measures, including a “floor-to-ceiling steel mesh” – something a Related spokesperson told the New York Times would preserve the “unique experience that has drawn millions of visitors from around the globe”.

Peter DeSalvo Jr, the father of the first young man to jump from the Vessel, told the outlet that “all the deaths, including that of our son, could have been prevented if they had adequate safeguards”.

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