The Shed, New York

Moveable shell clad in ETFE encloses new centre of art

The Shed is New York’s new centre for artistic invention designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group.

The building’s flexible design will accommodate the broadest range of performance, visual art, and multi-disciplinary work. Two principal components comprise The Shed: an eight-level “fixed” base building for cultural programming and support spaces, and a telescoping outer shell that deploys over an adjoining plaza to double the building’s footprint on demand.

The base building includes two expansive levels of gallery space, a versatile theatre, a rehearsal space, a creative lab for artists, and a sky-lit event space. The shell forms a vast hall that accommodates large-scale performances, installations, and events.

The Shed takes inspiration, architecturally, from the Fun Palace, the influential but unrealized building-machine (1964) by British architect Cedric Price and theatre director Joan Littlewood. Like its precursor, The Shed is conceived as an open infrastructure that can be permanently flexible for an unknowable future. The Shed’s ‘plug and play’ capability allows it to be responsive to variability in scale, media, technology, and the evolving needs of artists.

Primary materials for The Shed are structural steel, ETFE, insulated glass, and reinforced concrete.

The Shed’s movable shell is made of an exposed steel diagrid frame, clad in translucent cushions of a strong and lightweight Teflon-based polymer, called ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE). This material has the thermal properties of insulating glass at a fraction of the weight. The Shed’s ETFE panels are some of the largest ever produced, measuring almost 70 feet in length in areas.

The Shed has a very energy conscious design: the combination of a radiant heating system within the Plaza construction and a variable forced air heating and cooling system serving the occupied portions of the shell for maximum efficiency.