Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group reveal The Shed -- a vast New York arts venue on wheels

November 21, 2016
Architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and design studio Rockwell Group have unveiled their plans for an expandable cultural venue in New York's burgeoning Hudson Yards district.

The duo, who are both based in the city, have designed The Shed; a new centre for artistic invention set to open in early 2019.

Currently under construction on the far west side of Manhattan, where the High Line meets Hudson Yards, the facility will be housed in a 200,000sq ft building.

The structure comprises two principal components: a six-level fixed building, and a telescoping outer shell, which sits on a set of rails allowing it to be expanded and contracted.

The building, described as "radically flexible" by the design team, can accommodate a variety of performance types -- including concerts, theatre events and visual art shows. It is designed to operate in various configurations and to offer multiple events simultaneously.

The outer shell can be expanded and deployed over an adjoining plaza to provide a 120ft high hall with controllable light, sound and temperature. This venue can be configured to house a theatre seating 1,250 people or a standing audience of 3,000. When the shell is contracted, the plaza becomes a large open public space that can be used for outdoor programming.

The fixed building includes two large scale column-free galleries that provide 25,000sq ft of museum-quality spaces; a 500-seat theatre; event and rehearsal space; and a free lab for local artists to experiment.

"The Shed takes inspiration from the Fun Palace, the unbuilt, experimental building-machine by the 1960's British architect Cedric Price," said lead architect Liz Diller and lead designer David Rockwell in a statement. "Like its predecessor, our building is envisioned as open infrastructure that is versatile and responsive to the ever-changing demands of artistic endeavors in size, media, and technological complexity.

"We're using conventional building systems for the fixed building and adapting gantry crane technology to activate the outer shell to accommodate large-scale indoor and open-air programming on demand."

Daniel L. Doctoroff, president and chair of the board of directors of the facility, added: "The Shed is uniquely of and for the 21st century, a new cultural institution that can respond to artistic and technological advancements of our time.

"Uniting the uniquely flexible functionality of the building with our vision for commissioning ambitious new work is a powerful concept that can help to enhance New York's position as a global cultural hub while anchoring the city's new West Side."

When it opens, The Shed will be the first newly established 21st-century centre for the arts in New York. Founding artistic director Alex Poots has revealed a number of artists, starting with conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner, will create work for the centre's opening exhibits.

Meanwhile, choreographer Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray and his Dream Ring dance group will launch a three year residency promoting dance activism through flexn -- a form of street dance with roots in the Jamaican Bruk Up movement.

The project is being developed by a nonprofit cultural organisation also called The Shed. Funding will be provided by philanthropic contributions and earned revenue.

The wider Hudson Yards area is being redeveloped by the City of New York, the State of New York, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.. Other schemes being built in the area include Thomas Heatherwick's honeycomb-like public structure Vessel and a hotel and gym concept launched by fitness company Equinox.

Leisure Management
By Kim Megson