The Shed at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards

Monday, March 12, 2018 | By | Add a Comment



The Shed at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards

Many people who stay on top of the world of the performing arts, especially performing artists living in Manhattan have likely heard of the Shed.  The Shed is an art and performance space that wants to become the latest spectacle along New York’s High Line and the next big thing in city attractions and architectural awe.  When first announced, the project was vaguely conceived.  Located where the High Line runs smack into the massive West Side development project called Hudson Yards, the Shed seemed hardly more than an architectural trophy, with no obvious reason for being, other than to appease a skeptical public with the promise of some “cultural” amenity on the site of one of the largest and most valuable real estate deals in New York.  People are still skeptical about it, as anyone should be about such an expensive venue on valuable property in an often highly criticized and uncertain industry such as the entertainment industry, and with unknown future prospects.  It is, however, an interesting and monumental idea which combines technology, architecture, and movement/transformation into a major city attraction which has the ability to draw in crowds not only for its own sake, but also for the sake of the entertainment venues it supports.

The Shed, an ambitious, flexible performing and visual arts facility, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR) in collaboration with the Rockwell Group was But aspects of the unusual design of the 200,000 square foot structure have already been visible, emerging as construction continues on a New York City-owned site next to the High Line, in the new Hudson Yards development on the west side of Manhattan. The project, with a planned opening in 2019, has just received a $75 million gift from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg toward a $500 million capital campaign, of which $435 million is construction costs. The donation brings the total raised so far to $421 million.

The 8-level building’s most striking feature will be its translucent shell, composed of a steel diagrid frame and clad in pillows of ETFE, that can be rolled out over the adjacent plaza to form an enormous space for showing almost any imaginable performance or art installation. The vast 17,000 square foot “room”—which would become 30,000 square feet when combined with a floor of the base building—will allow for climate, light and sound-control.

According to Elizabeth Diller, founding principal of DSR, the Shed was inspired by Cedric Price’s Fun Palace—an unbuilt design for a vastly versatile building-as- machine.  So, the idea is not an original one and it has also been attempted before without completion.  To whom credit should be given for the design and how this revision of the original idea will succeed is yet to be discovered.

The building’s shell, with a primary structure that weighs 2,400 tons, moves using gantry crane technology on 6-foot-in-diameter steel wheels, or bogies, on rails, with a motorized sled drive on the base building’s roof.  The base building will contain two immense column-free galleries, a flexible black box theater space, as well as rehearsal space, a multi-purpose event space, an art lab, café, and bookstore.  Offices and back-of-house operations will be on the lower floors of a new residential tower (also designed by DSR with Rockwell) to which the base building is linked.

While the idea sounds like an interestingly new and modern concept, it may yet still be early to discern if this design will be worthwhile in the end, or if more could be done with the area in terms of something more necessary and mutually beneficial to the public.

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Category: Architecture and Home Design, Art

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