In just a little over a year from now, the massive multi-disciplinary arts center in Hudson Yatds, The Shed, will open to the public. In anticipation of that, the namesake nonprofit that runs the center announced the first commissions of its inaugural season, and offered up a tour of the under-construction site on Tuesday.
The announcement of the commissions, which will include work by Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, was also accompanied by a host of new renderings for the project, and details about how the eight-story structure will function. The inaugural season, which will get underway next spring, will have works across a wide range of disciplines and include projects with poet Anne Carson and actor Ben Whishaw; Kung Fu Panda screenwriters Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and singer Sia; and artist Agnes Denes; among several others.
The host of new renderings released by the non-profit are also offering us a first peek at the spaces within the arts center. The space created when the building’s shell fully extends over the adjacent plaza will be known as the McCourt, following a $45 million donation from businessman Frank McCourt, Jr. The McCourt will have room for a seated audience of 1,250 and a standing audience of 2,700. When combined with the gallery space within the main building at the plaza level, there would be space for up to 3,000 people. The extended shell will create a light, sound, and temperature-controlled space, and the ceiling of the shell has an occupiable theatrical deck.
We also have a first look at the gallery space on the fourth floor of the building, which has 19-foot-high ceilings; and the theater space on the sixth floor that can seat up to 500 people in a single large theater or about 200 each in two smaller theaters. In addition to all these space, there’s also an artists lab, rehearsal, and event space on the top floor.
One of the standout features of the Shed is its retractable shell, and the design for the overall project was inspired by the Fun Palace, an unrealized project by architect Cedric Price and theater director Joan Littlewood, the architect on the Shed, Elizabeth Diller, told a group of reporters touring the under-construction structure on Tuesday.
The shell is made of an exposed steel diagrid frame that’s clad in a Teflon-based polymer that has the thermal properties of insulating glass, but is a fraction of the weight. The shell’s opening is quite simple, Diller explained, and is inspired by the neighborhood’s industrial past and the gantry cranes found in shipping ports and railway stations. The shell rests on six massive wheels that run along rails located on the plaza level. The shell can be deployed in just five minutes with a wireless remote.
Prior to the opening of the arts center next spring, The Shed will debut an offsite arts event on an undeveloped lot at Tenth Avenue and 30th Street beginning May 1 this year, for a 13-day period. This prelude will have dance battles, concerts, and other performances including shows by Azealia Banks.