Need a last-minute gift for the architecture enthusiast in your life? Does that person also enjoy butt plugs?
If so, look no further. The New York-based interior architecture and exhibition design firm Wolfgang + Hite has turned New York City’s skyscraper-studded $25 billion mega-development Hudson Yards into a seven-piece sex toy set. Its phallic-shaped buildings of mostly high-end office space and some residential have been transformed into silicone dildos. The trophy development’s centerpiece, the stairs-to-nowhere architectural sculpture the Vessel, has been rendered into a hot pink butt plug, available for $75.
The full set of sex toys replicate the entire built space of Hudson Yards, with individual dildos modeled on each of the project’s six towers, which were designed by architects including Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Foster and Partners, and Diller Scofidio and Renfro. Made to order, the full sets take a few weeks to manufacture, so wouldn’t be available in time for this year’s holiday season. The butt plugs and the dildo version of the tower at 15 Hudson Yards, though, are available now.
Originally produced last fall, the architectural sex toys were designed to be used. “Of course they work,” says Shan Raoufi, cofounder of Wolfgang + Hite. “Manhattan’s finest new jewel is really good at finding the sweet spot.”
“We have gotten good reviews, actually,” adds Greta Hansen, the firm’s other cofounder. She notes that the toys are geared toward certain sexual proclivities, “because some of those structures are huge.”
The sex toys are what Hansen calls “a soft critique” of Hudson Yards as a transformative force in this part of Manhattan, and a reaction to the $6 billion of public funding that was used to develop the project—financing partly secured by gerrymandering the city’s map to connect the project’s site to Harlem and qualifying as providing jobs to the economically distressed neighborhood.
“We were pretty upset to learn how much public money went into the largest private development in the history of the United States,” says Raoufi. “Real estate at this level is part of an asset class that is just traded and invested. We just don’t think this much public money should be going to someone’s portfolio.”
During the coronavirus pandemic, this level of public funding is even more upsetting, Hansen says, as the offices are largely emptied and the commercial areas drained of activity. “I think it puts this kind of city investment into even starker light,” she says. “The city and the state now are having huge budget deficits because we’ve been hit so hard by the pandemic. It kind of makes you wonder whether they might look back and question the prudence of their investment in Hudson Yards.”
Such reflection may not be likely. Shortly after they first created the sex toys last year, Raoufi and Hansen had one of the full sets sent to Stephen Ross, chairman of the Related Companies, which developed Hudson Yards. Through a friend, they sent a follow-up email to one of Ross’s assistants to see what he thought. There was no response.
But Hansen and Raoufi have gotten some feedback from one of the architects involved in Hudson Yards. “She wrote us and asked us for instructions on how specifically she could use her building,” Hansen says. “We need to send her a Christmas gift.”