Another big step toward the final realization of NYC's Hudson Yards futuristic dream-capitalist nightmare—takes place on Friday with the grand opening of The Shed, the massive cultural center that stands in the "public square and gardens" part of the complex between Vessel and the High Line. We wandered around the building this morning—finishing touches are still being put into place for the weekend—and here's everything you need to know about this grandiose addition to the city's fine arts scene.
The not-for-profit Shed, so named because actual sheds are defined as "open-ended structures with tools," is designed to accommodate all manner of cultural events, from music, dance, and theater to films and other visual arts exhibitions. The entire eight-story, industrial-looking space (the whole 200,000 square-foot thing is known as The Bloomberg Building), is designed by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, with collaboration from the Rockwell Group.
The main space is called The McCourt, and is huge, taking up most of the structure, and has standing room for up to 2,000, with a series of wide, stepped platforms that improve sight lines throughout the room. This where the inaugural five-night series of "Soundtrack of America" concerts—directed by artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen—will be performed, starting this Saturday, celebrating the contributions of African American artists to contemporary culture.
When they retract the McCourt's roof and walls, a process that takes a full seven minutes as the Shed's shell rolls back toward 12th Avenue, the whole space becomes an outdoor pavilion where, one hopes, open-air public concerts will be held in the summer. (Björk will be premiering, "Cornucopia," (her "most elaborately staged concert to date") at the McCourt in May.
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@theshed will have a telescoping outer shell 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. Video by @diller_scofidio_renfro. #drgrealestatenyc #hudsonyards #nycarchitecture#theshed #highlinenyc #realestatedevelopment #hudsonyardsdevelopment #theshedny #theshednyc #nyspaces #nycartsandculture #drgfavs #diller_scofidio_renfro
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It's not easy to move an 8-million-pound steel structure, but The Shed's six-foot-diameter wheels make light work of it, moving the shell 115 feet in 5 minutes. A perfect nod to Cedric Price's flexible Fun Palace from which The Shed's architects, @diller_scofidio_renfro and @RockwellGroup, took inspiration!
The McCourt is also home to a specially commissioned piece by Lawrence Weiner, "In Front Of Itself," the phrase spelled out in custom paving stones and, unfortunately, currently covered by the stage and the risers.
The same floor features the Level 2 Gallery, a huge white box that, starting this weekend, will be the site of a Steve Reich, Gerhard Richter, and Arvo Pärt immersive live-performance installation. Up on the fourth floor, in the aptly named Level 4 Gallery, will be new work by the American mixed-media artist Trisha Donnelly, which is not yet installed because this space is also used as a kind of skybox for performances down in the McCourt. The movable risers here can accommodate some 300 presumably VIP-ish guests.
On Level Six is the Griffin Theater, with a raised stage and seating for 500. That's the current layout anyway; like everything else in the Shed, the Griffin is adaptable to whatever sort of theatrical creation comes its way. The first performance here will be "Norma Jean Baker of Troy", a sung and spoken piece by poet Anne Carson, with music composed by Paul Clark, and starring opera star Renée Fleming and British actor Ben Whishaw.
Finally, the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Skylights and Lab, which houses rehearsal space, a "creative lab for local artist," and rooms for various events, take up the building's top level.
None of this is free, by the way, nor open to the public, should you just want to roam around and check out the space this weekend. Depending on which performance you're seeing, tickets can cost anywhere from $10 to $175, and it's best to think of the Shed as a less highbrow Lincoln Center, packaged compactly into a single building. (A series of free events, called Open Call, will begin in May.)
That said, you can hang out in the lobby, located off of 30th Street near 12th Avenue. Here you'll find the main box office, a small outpost of the McNally Jackson book store, and lots of food and booze, thanks to Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group's cocktail bar and casual-bites spot, Cedric's, named after the Shed's initial designer, Cedric Price. The drinks come via Nick Bennet, the food is by Anton Nocito (both from Meyer's nearby Porchlight), and the not-yet-finalized menu includes dishes such as Caesar Salad, Grilled Cheese, Salt and Vinegar Popcorn, Deviled Eggs, and Monkey Bread. Prices are expected to range from $5 to $18.