Iwan Baan/Courtesy of the Shed

I’ve been to Hudson Yards twice and both times I’ve cried, once with my outside voice that a tourist heard while I rode the escalator in the shopping center talking on the phone to my friend Jason and telling him that the pressure is coming from both inside and outside and I don’t know how much longer I can stand it; and once with my inside voice when I had a Flauta Mixtra de Jamon Serrano y Manchego at José Andrés’ Mercado Little Spain food hall, and felt the passage of time and also hope and also loss and also the acute proximity to the humans that were standing around me just trying to have a tortilla espanola and find a seat; and actually I almost cried a third time, walking through the Forty Five Ten boutique and thinking if I should buy a crane-printed pajama set for this wedding I’m going to in Los Angeles this week because I guess weddings feel newly meaningful or whatever given the recent changes in my life.

I told my friend Tim, an architecture writer, that I was going to Vessel (apparently we don’t use articles to describe it) and that the time I’d gone to Vessel three days earlier I’d almost spontaneously vomited upon looking up but I don’t know if that’s my nascent fear of heights or the fact that Hudson Yards/The Shed /Vessel are all just representations of what my insides feel like right now. The easy joke should be that it’s all empty and soulless, but actually, the problem with Hudson Yards (and the problems with me) are so much more than that.

People tell you when you separate from your husband of four years that you should stay inside and rest and take care of yourself but what they don’t tell you is that when the Shed opens and you go to the press preview, tagging along with your other friend Ian, and all you can hear is powerful white men talking about how delighted they were to participate in the collaborative blah blah blah with the Shed, is that you will feel like all of this pageantry is just in service of giving more power to the people who already have more than enough power, and because you’re also thinking about the tax implications of your forthcoming legal disentanglement, the only notes that you can comprehensibly write to yourself are:

Tax implications???

It’s sort of funny when someone in the audience asks Liz Diller how her work about Las Vegas inspired the Shed but it’s less funny when everyone you tell makes some version of the joke about how of course there can be only one female architect and Denise Scott Brown, Hon. FAIA, is it. It’s sort of funny when you see that even though you haven’t been to a press event in a decade that they really haven’t changed much, and it’s really funny when you imagine what kind of sly aside Michael Kimmelman was trying to make in his New York Times review of Hudson Yards when he referred to Thomas Heatherwick as a “billionaire whisperer.”

While I agree with almost everything everyone else has said, they’re missing something. It’s not just that Hudson Yards is a billionaire’s playground or that it’s only for the rich, although those things are emphatically true. It’s that Hudson Yards is trying to be something more.

My editor asked me to come to the Shed and kick the tires so I did, literally, and they’re metal and look and feel like they’ll never move, but apparently the fact that the building moves is what’s up about it. Everyone’s excited about the flexibility, although last I heard architecture was inherently static, or at least meant to articulate space, and does a moving shell constitute architecture? Vessel isn’t architecture, and it’s way too close to the Shed (DM me if you know why), and I can’t go clambering up it because I might have dislocated my kneecap doing yoga because I’m 36, and that’s what happens when you’re 36.

(This is probably the time to say that this post was brought to you by the only real available seating area: the tables and chairs outside the Cook & Merchants Neiman Marcus café. Because, apparently, this isn’t really public space. Because, apparently, there’s just no easy way for us to be together.)

My brief was to write something about Hudson Yards that hasn’t been written yet, and while I agree with almost everything everyone else has said, they’re missing something. It’s not just that Hudson Yards is a billionaire’s playground or that it’s only for the rich, although those things are emphatically true. It’s that Hudson Yards is trying to be something more. And in that trying I can only see myself, and everyone else that I saw on that plaza; when I kicked the tires they felt immovable, and when I saw the frayed edges of the cool bubble material for the Shed (the so-called ETFE panels) I just thought about how all of our edges are frayed. And so the problem with Hudson Yards really isn’t its lack of humanity, it’s that it’s actually kind of a perfect articulation of our late capitalist longing. We want to feel something; I want to feel something. I’m thawing and numbing and thawing and numbing in rapid cycles, and the Shed is there for it. It’s flexible. It’s movable. But it’s not flexible enough. It’s not movable enough.

And so tomorrow, maybe, I’ll see the Snark Park, a “journey to the unexpected” created by a cool firm called Snarkitecture (cost: $28). Why would I go back? Why would I put myself in dull harm’s way? Because the Shed and Vessel and Hudson Yards keep asking me to have hope, and they keep breaking my heart. Because this is the year that, despite all my flexibility and all my whispering and all my trying to move things that were truly immovable, my heart broke. And it’s Hudson Yards that made me feel it.

Eva Hagberg Fisher is a regularly featured columnist. Her views and conclusions are not necessarily those of ARCHITECT magazine nor of the American Institute of Architects.