New York's Vessel attraction agrees to build lift for people with disabilities under pressure from feds
Instagrammable structure consists of 154 flights of stairs with 360-degree views
New York City's latest landmark is slated to become more accessible for individuals with disabilities, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.
The global real estate and lifestyle company Related Companies and ERY Vessel LLC agreed to install a platform lift mechanism on the upper levels of the Vessel, New York's honeycomb-shaped sculpture that consists of 154 flights of stairs or 2,500 steps for visitors to climb.
"We are pleased that Related has designed an innovative solution to increase accessibility to the Vessel," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman. "Related has agreed to commit substantial resources to install a platform lift that will allow individuals with disabilities to enjoy 360-degree views from the Vessel’s top level."
Under the agreement, Related will design, construct, install and operate a platform lift mechanism on the upper levels of the Vessel, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.
Once installed, the mechanism will allow individuals with disabilities to reach the top level of the structure, where scores of individuals have traveled to take in the 360-degree views.
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The attraction sits within Hudson Yards, which bills itself as "the cultural center of Manhattan's New West Side." It is made up of 80 platforms connected by stairways and was created as part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project.
"Hudson Yards is committed to accessibility for everyone, and from the very beginning, we have been collaborating with disability advocates to ensure access across all experiences," a Hudson Yards spokesperson said in an emailed statement. "At Vessel, we opened with an elevator enabling all visitors to enjoy multiple levels, including the summit, and are pleased to expand on that with additional lifts that will traverse the top levels further maximizing the experience of this one-of-a-kind sculptural attraction for people with disabilities."
The top level of the multi-story, open-air structure draws immense crowds but is currently inaccessible to individuals with disabilities, making it "in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990," according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.
As it stands now, the only elevator in the structure reaches only three (levels 5, 7, 8 ) of the platforms. Visitors have to traverse the stairs to get to the rest of the levels.
Due to high demand, the elevator has at times bypassed two of the three levels, which decreases accessibility for those with disabilities even further, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.
The Vessel has been described as the centerpiece of the new Hudson Yards development that "will lift the public up, offering a multitude of ways to engage with and experience New York, Hudson Yards and each other," according to Related.
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Under the agreement, Related also has to ensure that the elevator stops at all the three levels upon request, to operate the elevator on a pre-set, timed schedule, and to modify the Vessel's ticketing reservation options to allow individuals with disabilities to reserve priority access to the elevator.
"As we approach the ADA's 30th Anniversary, it is vital that individuals with disabilities have access to major new tourist attractions in our cities," Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. "I am pleased that Related is taking steps to increase accessibility of the Vessel."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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This story has been updated to include a statement from Hudson Yards.