NEW YORK — The developer behind a cluster of skyscrapers rising near the Hudson River raised eyebrows when he boasted the project would be anchored by a monumental sculpture that would be the city's Eiffel Tower.

After months of secrecy and speculation, plans for the work of public art were unveiled Wednesday. And while the price tag of the sculpture by British designer Thomas Heatherwick was a big-league $150 million, only time will tell whether New Yorkers embrace the 150-foot-tall work of art, dubbed "Vessel."

The concrete and steel structure will stand in a 5-acre public plaza in Manhattan. People will be able to climb it. The design has a latticework of 154 interconnected flights of stairs and 80 platforms and stands 50 feet across at the base and 150 feet wide at the top.

Heatherwick, whose other projects include the cauldron for the 2012 Olympics in London, said the sculpture "is the ultimate seeing-each-other device," because people climbing it would be able to see others on other platforms and those below."

The public square where "Vessel" will stand is planned as an outdoor venue for performances and art exhibits, with landscaping that includes 28,000 plants and trees. It's expected to be open to the public in 2018.

Heatherwick said construction of the components has begun in Italy.