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, which looks like an inverted honeycomb, 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.

Developer Stephen Ross of The Related Cos. wasn’t backing off his statements that the sculpture could join the pantheon of great urban landmarks, Eiffel Tower included.

“That was the whole idea of what I had in my mind,” he said. “What would create something that would be truly remarkable, that would be unique?”

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.

“We’re thrilled and excited and amazed that the project’s really happening,” he said. “It’s a very different kind of commission than we’ve ever worked on before.”

The public square where “Vessel” will stand is planned as an noutdoor 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.

The project, located near the northern terminus of another new landmark, the High Line elevated park, was met with enthusiasm from public art advocates and mixed reviews from the general public.