Biography: David Rockwell

Long before turning his attention to architecture, David Rockwell harbored a fascination with immersive environments. Growing up in Chicago, Illinois and Deal, New Jersey, and Guadalajara, Mexico, Rockwell was a child of the theater – his mother worked as a vaudeville dancer and choreographer and would cast him in community repertory productions. Rockwell brought his passion for theater and an eye for the color and spectacle of Mexico to his architecture training at Syracuse University where he received a Bachelor of Architecture degree and to his studies at the Architectural Association in London. These formative influences continue to have strong reverberations throughout his practice.

Rockwell Group is an award winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice. Based in New York City with satellite offices in Madrid and Dubai, Rockwell and his 160-person firm focuses on a diverse array of projects that range from hotels to hospitals, restaurants to airport terminals and Broadway set designs to consumer products.

Past projects include the Chambers hotel (New York); W New York and W Union Square; Aloft hotels, Starwood Hotel & Resort’s new urban roadside oases; “Hall of Fragments,” the entrance installation to the 2008 11th annual Venice Architecture Biennale; the Kodak Theatre, home of the Academy Awards ceremony (Los Angeles); set design for the 2009 81st Academy Awards; Canyon Ranch Miami Beach; Casinos of the Earth, Sky and Wind at Mohegan Sun Casino (Uncasville, CT); interior work and brand conceptualization for the JetBlue terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport; the Broadway musicals Hairspray and Legally Blonde; the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore; Adour Alain Ducasse at The St. Regis New York; Nobu restaurants worldwide including New York, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Dubai; Bar American; Gordon Ramsay’s Maze (London); and a collection of wall coverings for Maya Romanoff. Currently projects include the Elinor Bunin-Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center; Morgans Hotel Group’s Ames Hotel (Boston); the Walt Disney Family Museum (San Francisco); and Crystals, the central retail and dining component of MGM Mirage’s CityCenter in Las Vegas.

In March 2009 Rockwell Group will break ground on Imagination Playground at Burling Slip in the South Street Seaport area of Lower Manhattan, a public-private partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Imagination Playground is a rich environment of diverse materials that encourages unstructured child-directed “free play”, the very sort of activity that is vital to developing cognitive, social and emotional skills. Through a partnership with KaBoom!, the leading non-profit dedicated to playground development all over the country, Rockwell Group will be offering fixed-site and other scalable models of Imagination Playground to communities nationwide.

david rockwell

His monograph, Pleasure: The Architecture and Design of Rockwell Group, was published by Universe, a division of Rizzoli Books in 2002. Spectacle by David Rockwell with Bruce Mau--a book examining the history and public fascination with larger-than-life manmade events--was published by Phaidon Press in October 2006. David Rockwell has been honored with the National Design Award by Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt for outstanding achievement in Interior Design, a lifetime achievement award from Interiors magazine, is included in Interior Design magazine’s Hall of Fame and was awarded the Presidential Design Award for his work for the Grand Central Terminal renovation. Rockwell serves as Chairman of the Board of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), and as a board member of City-Meals-on-Wheels and the Public Theater. He is a member of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s committee on Exhibitions.