Directly on the High Line in Manhattan’s new Hudson Yards business district, Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, have created avant-garde architecture for art and pop culture with the Shed, which opens on April 5. This compact, eight-story structure has a silvery, shining skin made of Texlon ETFE foil cushions on the main building, and includes two pillar-free gallery levels totaling 24,757 square feet (2,300 square meters).

The architects’ idea was to design the Shed as a multifunctional and transformable building. The size of the venue can be nearly doubled by a movable steel roof construction covered in ETFE, allowing for large-scale installations, events and performances of all kinds.

Photo: © Timothy Schenck

On both sides, the shell’s structure rests on one double and two single axles, whose double wheels, the height of a man, are mounted on rails. Within five minutes, the structure, including the 148 ETFE cushions, can be moved across the nearly 18,300-square-foot (1,700-square-meter) forecourt to the east. This creates a hall space called McCourt, which is designed for up to 2,700 people. It can be opened to the main building and to the outside via vertical and horizontal sliding gates. If the structure is “parked” over the building, the space can be used by the public, or for events with the membrane skin as a media projection surface.

Exposed to High Windloads

The design specification of the retractable building shell suggested a façade solution which has both a low net weight and high tolerances with respect to vibrations resulting from movement. The architects therefore opted for a membrane skin based on the Texlon ETFE system by Vector Foiltec. A total of 146 three-layer and two four-layer foil cushions cover an area of 44,239 square feet (4,110 square meters). The two four-layer ETFE cushions are located on the north side at the very edge of the main building. Due to the extreme windloads expected at this point, they are equipped with a patented load sharing valve. This also necessitated the use of an additional foil layer, which – just like the underlying foil – is 300 microns thick. Also exposed to high windloads, are the adjacent three-layer cushions and the upper edge areas of the construction. Here the top foils are also 300 microns.