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NYC Culture Shed, a Permanent Space for Temporary Events

by Maeve Gately on May 30, 2013

Rendering of a view of the Culture Shed from the High Line at 30th Street (all images courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group)

Rendering of a view of the Culture Shed from the High Line at 30th Street (all images courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group)

The possible future site of New York Fashion Week and hundreds of other arts and culture events resembles a futuristic, moving building more than a Barclays Center for the arts. The so-called Culture Shed, a structure slated to be part of the Hudson Yards development, will occupy West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, and promises to provide a home for large-scale temporary arts events, which currently lack a permanent site in the city.

The Shed is being designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in partnership with the Rockwell Group. Renderings show an airy, soaring structure made of steel and glass, comprising four floors and 180,000 square feet of space. The Shed will be white and semi-transparent, reflecting the sparkling buildings of Hudson Yards and linking the residential and commercial spaces with the outdoor cultural life of the High Line. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the project is the retractable nature of the Shed itself, which will include a 140-foot glass canopy that will slide out along tracks and expand to create a temporary plaza in front of the structure. This space can be used for concerts, openings, and other events. When not in use, the canopy will rest atop the Shed, leaving the plaza as an open-air public space once more.

Views of the Culture Shed’s canopy nested, on left, and deployed, right

Views of the Culture Shed’s canopy nested, on left, and deployed, on right

The Culture Shed is being built in tandem with the Hudson Yards development, a massive 26-acre project that will convert a former rail yard into what supporters are branding the next trendy Manhattan neighborhood. Hudson Yards will include state-of-the-art residential and commercial buildings and provide housing for 10,000 people and work for 30,000. It’s intended to feed into the already booming expansion of the West Side and to continue the revitalization of Chelsea northwards.

Danai Pointer spoke to Hyperallergic on behalf of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Asked about the potential timeline for the project, she said, “Culture Shed must be built in tandem with the platform over the Hudson Rail Yards and a 70-story residential tower to which it will be connected. Depending on that timeline, construction could begin by summer 2014.” Plans for the building won a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant back in 2010. A major international firm, Diller Scofidio + Renfro has designed a number of celebrated New York landmarks, including the newly renovated Lincoln Center, the Governors Island Park, and all three phases of the High Line.

The Shed is, in fact, being integrated with the third phase of the High Line, which runs directly by the site and will serve as a cultural connector between Hudson Yards, the gallery district of Chelsea, and Meatpacking to the south. It will be located directly beneath a skyscraper also designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and act as a needed large-scale venue for performing and visual arts events on Manhattan’s West Side.

“Culture Shed will work collaboratively with artists and organizations, locally, nationally and internationally, to present work across the spectrum of the creative industries,” Pointer said, noting that the venue will host a myriad of event types, “including visual art, design, dance, theater, music, and media.”

The Culture Shed is currently under public review, and as other articles have noted, Chelsea area Community Board 4 and other neighborhood residents have expressed concerns about the potential loss of public space as well as the types of events for which the Shed will be used. (They want to avoid building another Javits Center.) Pointer expects this review process to continue into the fall, but in the meantime, planning goes on.

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