The Shed, NYC's New Center for Artistic Invention, Announces its First Artist Commissions

The Shed, NYC's New Center for Artistic Invention, Announces its First Artist Commissions

Published on July 22, 2016
"Reggie Roc" Grey, Commissioned Artist, /Stephanie Berger photo

A 21st-century Center for The Arts In NYC in 2019

Alex Poots, Founding Artistic Director and CEO of The Shed, today announced that New York’s new center for artistic invention will launch the first two of a series of pre-opening initiatives. These first endeavors will begin to demonstrate The Shed’s mission to commission and present new work by artists across all disciplines for the widest range of audiences.

When The Shed opens its doors in spring 2019, it will be the first newly established 21st-century center for the arts in New York City. Before opening, The Shed will commission a number of artists, starting with Lawrence Weiner, who is producing a major new artwork that will be unveiled when the building opens.

The Shed also has begun a three-year collaboration with Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and The D.R.E.A.M. Ring (Dance Rules Everything Around Me) flexn dancers, forming a free, citywide residency program in dance activism for young people in New York. The collaboration, titled FlexNYC, will begin in fall 2016. 

Architectural conception of The Shed.

“The Shed supports original artists and thinkers to make new work, evolve their art forms, take risks and reflect on the significant issues of our time, building on this great city’s pioneering legacy,” said Alex Poots. “Our partnerships with the legendary artist Lawrence Weiner and inspirational Reggie ‘Regg Roc’ Gray and The D.R.E.A.M. Ring flexn dancers begin to realize our mission to commission and present the widest range of artists, including work with neighborhood partners and communities. It is meaningful to inaugurate our program with a commission by Lawrence, this influential New York artist who also has a formative relationship with the west side docks where he worked as a teenager. We look forward to announcing more programming plans and commissions as we advance toward our opening.” 

Currently under construction on the far west side of Manhattan, where the High Line meets Hudson Yards, The Shed will be housed in a 200,000-square-foot building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group. The radically flexible design of the performative structure can physically and operationally accommodate the broadest range of performance, visual art, music and multi-disciplinary work.

“The Shed is uniquely of and for the 21st century, a new cultural institution that can respond to artistic and technological advancements of our time,” said Daniel L. Doctoroff, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Shed. “Uniting the uniquely flexible functionality of the building with Alex Poots’ vision for commissioning ambitious new work is a powerful concept that can help to enhance New York’s position as a global cultural hub while anchoring New York’s new West Side.”

“An organization expresses its values and mission through its programming, so it’s exciting to see Alex Poots and his team collaborate with these extraordinary visual and performance artists,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “I’m thrilled that right from the start, The Shed is demonstrating its commitment to bringing cutting edge art and culture to communities across New York City.”

First Pre-Opening Commissions

The Shed will commission new works that place the widest range of artists and their audiences at the center of its mission, as well as responding to the evolving cultural landscape and forging a global network of like-minded artistic producers and presenters.

Laurence Weiner; portrait by Norbert Schoerner.

The Shed’s first commission is artist Lawrence Weiner, a founding figure of Conceptual art who is celebrated for his installations incorporating epigrammatic material statements. Weiner is creating a major new art work that explores, confronts and inspires The Shed’s ambitions and identity. Further details about the work will be revealed in the coming months.

FlexNYC will establish partnerships between New York City school students and emerging and early career artists, who together will explore issues of social justice through flexn, a form of street dance with roots in the Jamaican Bruk Up found in dance and reggae halls in Brooklyn. Under the direction of pioneering artist Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray and The D.R.E.A.M. Ring flexn dancers, FlexNYC will provide students with opportunities to enhance and expand artistic and critical-thinking skills, develop self-expression, confront challenges and build confidence through dance. The residency will include weekly dance workshops with students and special community classes around the city led by teaching artists and public performances that highlight participants’ progress and tell their stories. Select students will have the opportunity to perform in a major production, developed during the residency and presented by The Shed.

Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray.

Building Design and Construction

Purpose-built to complement The Shed’s programmatic vision, the building is designed to operate in various configurations and to offer multiple events simultaneously. The structure comprises two principal components: a six-level fixed building, and a telescoping outer shell that deploys over the adjoining plaza to provide a 120-foot-high, light-, sound- and temperature-controlled hall that can serve an infinite variety of needs and uses, including a theater seating 1,250 or a standing audience of 3,000. The fixed building includes two large scale column-free galleries comprising 25,000 square feet of museum-quality space; a 500-seat theater; event and rehearsal space; and a free lab for early career local artists to experiment.

The building is able to expand and contract by rolling the telescoping shell on rails. When the shell is nested over the fixed section, the 20,000-square-foot plaza will be open public space that can also be used for outdoor programming. The Shed is adjacent to 15 Hudson Yards, a residential tower also designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, which contains The Shed’s back-of-house needs and enables the entirety of the structure to be devoted to programming.

Speculated interior of The Shed.

This summer, as construction continues to move forward, the lobby, mezzanine, galleries and theater levels of the fixed portion of the building will become visible. Installation of the building’s advanced kinetic elements that drive the deployment of the movable shell, such as the rails and the first “bogie” wheel, also will occur this summer and fall.

“The Shed takes inspiration from the Fun Palace, the unbuilt, experimental building-machine by the 1960’s British architect, Cedric Price. Like its predecessor, our building is envisioned as open infrastructure that is versatile and responsive to the ever-changing demands of artistic endeavors in size, media, and technological complexity,” said Liz Diller and David Rockwell. “We are using conventional building systems for the fixed building and adapting gantry crane technology to activate the outer shell to accommodate large-scale indoor and open-air programming on demand.”

The Shed is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural organization. The Shed relies on a mix of philanthropic contributions and earned revenue to empower artists and partners to realize their greatest ambitions. To date, The Shed has raised more than $326 million toward the total capital construction costs of $425 million. 

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