When plans for The Shed–the arts center that will be part of New York City’s Hudson Yards megaproject–were announced in 2016, it seemed like a long shot. Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group proposed a massive structure with a telescoping roof, weighing 4,000 tons and reaching up to 120 feet, that could extend and retract on command over a public square. The shape-shifting structure took its cues from a radical 1960s design experiment by Cedric Price–more of a conceptual exploration than a viable construction plan.
Yet now, the Shed is nearing completion, and it’s remained shockingly faithful to its initial proposal:
The roof–which is composed of a latticed steel and plastic ETFE panels–moves thanks to infrastructure more commonly found in shipping ports. Set on six-foot-wide wheels, the roof moves at .25 miles per hour and takes five minutes to fully extend. Designing flexibility into the structure was important, as architect Elizabeth Diller said in a release:
“The opportunity to design a ground-up building for the arts forced the question, What will art look like in the next 10 years? 20 years, and beyond? The answer was that we simply could not know. All that we could be certain of was that there would always be a need for conditioned space of different heights and sizes, a need for structural loading capacity, and a need for electrical power. The solution was, an architecture of infrastructure.”
The structure is on track for completion in 2019 and a new injection of capital–$75 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies–is helping the building reach its $500 million capital financing goal. Including the Bloomberg commitment, the Shed has raised $421 million to date.
It’s remarkable to see the telescoping in action–let’s hope no one ever gets caught under those massive wheels.