Updated: May 8
During a business trip in 2019 visiting the NY Build Show , I was able to explore Hudson Yards in its infancy, before Covid and before it had become a sensational tourism addition to the city of my adult upbringing. For those of you who know me personally & familiar with my career, you know i spent about 5 years working in the garment district & living on the Upper East Side during my apparel days. Right after 9-11, NYC is where I became an adult (sort of), earned my masters in life and thrived in one of the safest times to ever live in the city that never sleeps. Recently, I found myself longing for another trip to "the city". Having re-birthed my marketing company and launching a new brand of sales coaching I've developed a passion project for telling stone stories. The story of Hudson Yards came back to me in a dream. During the dream, my 2019 eyes and reaction to the impeccable natural stone wonders around it's many structures, plaza's, lobbies, shops and art exhibits came rushing back to my thoughts. The entire development feels like an "ode to natural stone". In 2019 I was in the thick of my stone education masters working for the natural stone king in Italy (Antolini). I long sometimes for the starry eyed wonderment felt as i came up out of the new sparkling subway station and the fascination with each installation and the feel of the textures in the stones. My fascination with installations of wonderment has never died, it was simply tucked away while i worked in a different role on a smaller regional platform for a couple of years after Covid. Hudson Yards is truly one of the most beautiful commercial stone projects ever completed. A Virginia Stone Installation Highlight - Hudson Yards - A NYC Stone Story is a dream. Along with the 2nd avenue subway, a new station below times square had seemed like a dream during my residence in Manhattan in the early 2000's. See the mosaic tile ceiling featured in a photo from my archives, this is featured at the top of the escalator when you come up from the new Hudson Yards stop on the 8th Ave line.
According to Wiki, Hudson Yards construction began in 2014. I was just beginning my career in commercial sales development & the art of specification techniques were starting to filter in mentor by mentor. The site encompases an entire New York Block, from 10th-11th Ave between 30th & 34st. For non-new yorkers this is more than one literal block, but in construction NYC language , this is in fact a proper BLOCK of real estate as its called speaking about historical development of the city. In 2019 construction completed and the development opened just in time for my visit to the NY Build Show that falls every year early -mid Spring. In 2019 the show fell end of March, one of the best times of year to venture out in NYC. Not to hot, not to cold, not to many tourists and as long as you stay away from Times square, most tourists can blend right in and actually get theatre tickets and dinner reservations. This was pre-covid NY and amazing time to visit.
The project consists of several luxury residential buildings 30 Hudson Yards, 35 Hudson Yards, 50 Hudson Yards, 55 Hudson Yards & The Shops & Restaurants of Hudson Yards. It also has a public plaza and the "Vessel" sculpture centering the plaza. A true feat of Design, Development & Construction at its absolute finest.
Finding articles on stone utilized in each project isn't difficult. There are many websites dedicated to the multitude of award winning sections within the project as a whole. I thought I knew about the use of Virginia's famous Virginia Mist as well as one of my favorites, Calacatta Bluette (a seemingly disappearing mystery quarried in Carrara, Italy). Along with limestone and travertines, natural stones covered the walls & floors and walls of the buildings and shops of Hudson Yards. While researching this article, a reading proved me wrong! As a stone lover & guru, remembering my walks through the public spaces we're surrounded by amazing works of art and true stone features are worth sharing with you today & absolutely worth a peek if you are visiting the big apple in the near future.
The architect firm Kohn Pedersen Fox, who lead the design on the master plan also led the design on 55 Hudson Yards & 30 Hudson Yards, KPF's uses of stone is remarkable. There were in total 6 architecture firms contributing to various compoenents in this project! (KPF, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Thomas Hetherwick, Foster + Partners, Roce-Dinkeloo & Diller Scofidio + Renfro. As it turns out if you visit these write ups, the lobby space on 55 Hudson was actually clad in the Jet Mist, not Virginia Mist. It's the same quarry in Virginia, and it's basically the same geological stone, but not exactly the same! In reading, I was pleased to discover the story of the four visits it required to the quarry in order to select the appropriate blocks. The team completed multiple dry lay visits to the quarry to ensure vein matching and color and texture were approved. Well done and Kudo's to KPF. Photo Credit below: Connie Zhou via KPF.
30 Hudson Yards is the third tallest office tower in New York and home to the highest outdoor observation deck in the western hemisphere, Edge. The article linked features amazing footage of the quarry and technique for the Travertine blocks in a cleat finish sourced from Italy.
The project utilized VC Travertine dry fit into specific double lay pattern for the walls and floors. For the walls: The material showcases the characteristic fossilization which occurs naturally within many limestone and travertine(s). The blocks were obviously rough cut to what appears to be approximately 20cm and edges finished by hand.
A stunning example of a diamond match 8 panel installation fabricated and designed to highlight the diamond quad created when brining 4 corners together on a diagonal VC material. In my travels any diamond match installation will always find itself in my photo archives, the magic created by the earth, contrived into a piece of art, simply irresistible.
Writing this article, i searched through my archives disappointingly discovering i have zero shots of the multitude of calacatta bluette cascading all floors of The Shops at Hudson Yards. I remember picking my jaw off the floor when i entered the shops due to the sheer volume of cut to size flooring from this incredible marble. But my jaw was on the floor not just because of the installation but because of the feeling in my gut. A sinking feeling that we, I, might have known about this project while it was in early construction phase? I might have spoken to one of these team members at a trade show? Could it be? I recall a conversation during a 2017 trade show. It was a time when i worked in the booth as a representative and consultant working as Alpha for Antolini Italy. An architect from NY visited the booth and i remember taking the gentleman to some of the other agents for a deeper discussion. The architect expressed an immediate need for a large quantity of Calacatta Bluette. He mentioned it was urgent, the project was under construction. I don't recall where the gentleman was from, nor did i keep his information (it went to the agents) so we feverishly pushed the lead and made some connections in order that my contracted employer could continue the conversation. I will never know what transpired from that conversation, all i know is walking into this freshly opened public space, i believe wholeheartedly there is a connection.
In front of me cascaded thousands of sq feet of calacatta bluette and while i don't know for sure, i will always wonder if that was the "one that got away" project. I'll never know for sure if the group i was contracted to had anything to do with the procurement. It was very early in my natural stone career and based on the knowledge i have now in sourcing materials, it's doubtful the lead produced anything significant from the work i was doing. But wow, what a correlation to take away in my career. I had never felt so small yet I had played a miniscule (and insignificant) role in this gargantuan commercial development. As someone who dipped her toes into the commercial field for several years, this was one of those career moments putting the lead connection to the project i will never forget. Anyway, of the photos i could find, i also know this material is very difficult to find in large format. Typically sourced for tile it's a rare find in the world of countertops or large wall installations. As a project manager, one would have to visit the quarry and or work very closely with a well connected distributor in order to special order this material. If you find yourself in NY, it's worth seeing this installation in person. I'm so lucky to have transitioned from textiles & apparel to this world of stone, nature's most fascinating masterpieces on display around the world. Thanks for joining me on this adventure!
Photo Courtesy: Bloomberg.com
Photo Courtesy: 6sqft.com
Photo Courtesy: Business Insider