Work has finally begun on developing the Hudson Yards, the fallow 20-plus-acre patch of rail yards on Manhattan’s west side. By some measures, it’s the largest real estate project in New York City history—an office building enclave meant to rival those in Hong Kong, Shanghai and London’s Canary Wharf.
The best hope for the neighborhood may be the Culture Shed, an exhibition-and-performance space designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group to be expandable, its structure telescoping along rails. Backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the designers have been selling the concept to both established and fledgling arts organizations, who would take turns using the facility. For too long, says architect Elizabeth Diller, much of the art world “has felt comfortable in hand-me-downs,” spaces built for other uses. The Culture Shed—twice the size of the Park Avenue Armory—would let that world know “it’s okay to be exuberant occasionally.”