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These architectural sex toys critique New York City’s new skyscrapers

In 2008, famed critic Ada Louise Huxtable said that the skyscrapers at Hudson Yards would look “alarmingly like sex toys.”

These architectural sex toys critique New York City’s new skyscrapers
[Image: courtesy Wolfgang + Hilt]

New York’s Hudson Yards has been called Manhattan’s “slickest gated community.” From its 850-square-foot luxury apartments that start at $2 million to Thomas Heatherwick’s Vessel sculpture—which retains rights to any and all photographs that you take inside—the 28-acre development has come to encapsulate the worst of New York’s real estate excess for many critics (and taxpayers, who shelled out nearly $6 billion in incentives to bring it to life).

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[Image: courtesy Wolfgang + Hite]

The architecture and design firm Wolfgang + Hite decided to take a novel approach to sharing their own criticism of the neighborhood’s architecture with Related, the developer behind the project. They created XXX-HY, a series of small sculptures—and, as it turns out, sex toys—depicting Hudson Yards’ buildings. When scaled down to 1:1200 size and rendered in silicone, the towers become dildos of uncomfortably large proportions. The more uniquely shaped buildings, like the Shed and Vessel, are used a bit more creatively. The Shed is a clitoral stimulator. And the Vessel is actually a 1.5-inch ribbed butt plug.

[Image: courtesy Wolfgang + Hite]

The project was inspired in part by the criticism of the late 20th-century feminist architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, who in 2008, pointed out that Hudson Yards looked “alarmingly like sex toys.” Of course, by transforming the architectural phallus into a literal tool of self-pleasure, the entire critique becomes a bit more overt.

“You can certainly fuck yourself with a dildo, and that hard reading is relevant,” says architect and interior designer Greta Hansen. (Wolfgang + Hite mailed their creation directly to Related, which did not respond to Co.Design‘s request for comment.) “But we also see this as a soft critique: we are proponents of pleasure! We wanted our dildo set to highlight what is wrong with Hudson Yards as a public and publicly funded space but also to celebrate its wild for-profit extravagance. It is definitely a magnum project.”

For now, Wolfgang + Hite is only producing the sculptures as one-offs, which means they are prohibitively expensive to any interested buyers. But the firm is currently investigating a mass production option. “We are working on a way to produce them to meet our goal price point: we want to sell this roughly one square foot model for the same price Hudson Yards sells each of its square feet,” says Hansen. In other words, it still won’t be all that cheap.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company who has written about design, technology, and culture for almost 15 years. His work has appeared at Gizmodo, Kotaku, PopMech, PopSci, Esquire, American Photo and Lucky Peach

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