David Rockwell inserts huge plywood box into The Shed for inaugural concert

Written by Eleanor Gibson, dezeen

David Rockwell has created "a rough and ready kit of parts" for the set of the first concert at New York cultural venue The Shed.

The New York architect, who collaborated on The Shed with lead architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro, was enlisted to create the stage for a five-day music concert held at the venue.

Soundtrack Of America set at The Shed by David Rockwell
The Soundtrack of America set comprises a huge plywood volume and tiered seating

Rockwell teamed with designer Adam Stockhausen to create a flexible setting for Soundtrack of America – a showcase that aims to celebrate the impact of African American culture on contemporary music with different performers featured each night.

"The concept was to create something that was simple, democratic, and welcoming, and that could be adjusted to fit the needs of a wide variety of performers," Rockwell told Dezeen.

Soundtrack Of America set at The Shed by David Rockwell
David Rockwell and Adam Stockhausen designed the set to be adaptable to different performances during the concert series

The duo has designed a plywood structure that appears like a huge box inserted into the far end of The McCourt – a plaza that can be temporarily covered by The Shed's moving roof.

Various components are included in the structure, such as a small platform that protrudes out from the front, and sliding doors that open to reveal a larger stage for a band behind.

Soundtrack Of America set at The Shed by David Rockwell
Sliding doors fronting the structure reveal a large stage behind

"The boxes contain sliding doors and platforms that can be adjusted for different performers, making it a rough and ready kit of parts," said Rockwell.

"Its simplicity is designed to keep the focus squarely on the musicians, without distractions."

Directed by Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen, Soundtrack of America's first night marked the opening performance held in the 11,700-square-foot (1,087-square-metre) space.

In the current arrangement, The Shed's huge telescoping roof extended to cover for the concert. The area can also act as an outdoor plaza when the roof is rolled back to nest over the main building.

The flexible Soundtrack of America set follows the principle for The Shed, as conceived by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It is designed to be easily set-up and taken down, suiting the venue's changing form.

Soundtrack Of America set at The Shed by David Rockwell
The box is inserted at the far end of The McCourt plaza. Photograph by Timothy Schenck, courtesy of The Shed

"The flexibility of the Soundtrack of America stage is in direct dialogue with the space itself, for which our concept was always to push structural flexibility to the absolute limit in order to satisfy the widest possible range of creative impulses, needs, and desires," Rockwell told Dezeen.

The Shed opened on 5 April to round out the first phase of the major Hudson Yards development. The eight-storey building faces Thomas Heatherwick's massive Vessel structure and nestles into a neighbouring skyscraper, 15 Hudson Yards, also designed by DSR and Rockwell.

Additional seating is provided in a volume housed in The Shed's main building

Hudson Yards also encompasses two sister office towers and another corporate block by development masterplanner KPF.

Other projects here include a tall office building by Foster + Partners and SOM's residential skyscraper, which will accommodate the first hotel by luxury gym Equinox.

Soundtrack of America runs at the The Shed, 545 W 30th Street, from 5 to 14 April 2019.

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