A major performing arts center has opened in New York City to quite a bit of fanfare. The Shed, opened on April 5, 2019, has not only made a bold architectural statement but will also make a splash with its innovative programming. The Shed’s Bloomberg Building—an innovative 200,000-square-foot structure was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, lead architect, and Rockwell Group, collaborating architect, and is the showpiece at Hudson Yards, the new mix of luxury apartments and shopping on Manhattan’s west side. Also known as The Shed’s Bloomberg Building, the structure makes a visual impact as seen from The High Line and other vantage points in the city. Estimated cost: $475 million.
The most unusual architecture feature is the telescoping outer shell that can deploy from its position over the base building and glide along rails onto an adjoining plaza to double the building’s footprint for large-scale performances, installations, and events. The multi-story base building features a potpourri of spaces, from art galleries and The McCourt Theatre to rehearsal spaces, and a creative lab. When the shell is deployed, the vast space can accommodate large-scale productions—plays, operas, concerts, dance performances, and art installations.
For the inaugural performance, David Rockwell and Adam Stockhausen wrapped The McCourt in plywood, creating a uniform platform that allows musicians to shine. The stage is a series of four elemental boxes that forms a kind of folly—a simple expression of columns, beams, and planes. The programming of such work at The Shed is the purview of Alex Poots, who is Scottish, and was touted for his vision as director of The Manchester International Festival in the UK.
A few facts:
The Shed’s Bloomberg Building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Lead Architect, and Rockwell Group, Collaborating Architect, is an innovative 200,000-square-foot structure that physically transforms to support artists’ most ambitious ideas.
The McCourt, The Shed’s most iconic space, is formed when the movable outer shell is deployed over the adjoining plaza to create a 17,000-square-foot light-, sound-, and temperature-controlled hall for large-scale performances, installations, and events. It can accommodate a seated audience of approximately 1,200 and a standing audience of more than 2,000.
The movable shell travels on a double-wheel track based on gantry crane technology commonly found in shipping ports and railway systems. A rack-and-pinion drive moves the shell forward and back on four single-axle and two double-axle bogie wheels that measure six feet in diameter; the deployment of the shell takes approximately five minutes. The exposed steel diagrid frame of the movable shell is clad in translucent pillows of durable and lightweight Teflon-based polymer, called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE). With the thermal properties of insulating glass at a fraction of the weight, the translucent ETFE allows light to pass through and can withstand hurricane-force winds. Measuring almost 70 feet (21 meters) in length in some areas, The Shed’s ETFE panels are some of the largest ever produced.
The Level 2 and Level 4 Galleries, totaling 25,000 square feet, are expansive, column-free, museum-quality spaces.
The Kenneth C. Griffin Theater, on level 6, can seat 500 people and be subdivided into more intimate spaces to suit the needs of a range of productions and installations.
The Tisch Skylights and Lab, on the top floor, are striking spaces for events, rehearsals, and artist development.
The Plaza can be used as an outdoor public space for programming when the movable shell is retracted to nest over the base building.
- DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO, Lead Architect
- ROCKWELL GROUP, Collaborating Architect
- FISHER DACHS, Theatre Consultant
- AKUSTIKS, Acoustics / Audio / Visual Consultant
- TILLOTSON DESIGN ASSOCIATES, Lighting Consultant
Stay tuned for Live Design’s in-depth coverage of The Shed.