Ready to support the bold ambitions of today’s contemporary artists, The Shed in New York City is singularly focused on commissioning, producing, and presenting original works of art from all disciplines and for all audiences. The Shed is an intriguing new building in a city rife with them, but it stands out because of its ingenious telescoping outer shell that glides along rails physically transforming the building.
The 200,000-square-foot building comprises two floors of gallery space, a versatile theater, rehearsal space, a creative lab, and skylit event space across its eight levels. Nestled alongside the city’s celebrated High Line elevated park, The Shed was inspired by its neighborhood’s industrial past and the city's West Side Rail Yard. Much like the gantry cranes found in shipping ports and railway systems across the country, The Shed’s outer shell rides along a series of bogie wheels guided by a pair of 273-foot rails.
When deployed, which takes approximately five minutes, the shell creates a 17,000-square-foot multi-use space called The McCourt. The McCourt can combine seamlessly with an adjacent gallery on the building’s second level, creating nearly 30,000 square feet of contiguous space that easily accommodates an audience of more than 1,200 seated and 2,700 standing. Flexible overlap space allows for an audience of up to 3,000 people. The shell’s ceiling is an occupiable theatrical deck replete with rigging and structural capacity. When the shell returns to its position atop The Shed, the plaza remains an open public space that can be used for outdoor programming.
The shell is composed of an exposed steel diagram frame clad with translucent cushions of a strong, lightweight Teflon-based polymer that offers the thermal properties of insulating glass at a fraction of its weight. The shell’s weight is spread across six large bogie wheel assemblies crafted from hardened forged steel at ground level, each of which bears more than one million pounds on a surface area that is roughly the size of a pair of human hands.
In its inaugural season in 2019, The Shed demonstrated its agility by hosting performances in the theater and The McCourt, while artists, both established and emerging, exhibited in the galleries. Such flexibility was critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, and The Shed’s outdoor performance space and its state-of-the-art HVAC system were critical in supporting a safe reopening last year.