MICD 25 Spotlight on New York City
Northwest view of Culture Shed at Highline and Eastern Rail Yards Platform Level. Photo courtesy of Diller Scofidio Renfro/The Rockwell Group
Hudson Yards Development Corporation (HYDC) is a not-for-profit entity created by the City of New York in 2005 to oversee the redevelopment of the Hudson Yards district. With its MICD 25 grant, HYDC will develop advanced design plans for Culture Shed, an innovative facility intended to serve as a cultural anchor for the Hudson Yards redevelopment. Here's more from HYDC's Senior Vice President for Planning and Design Wendy Leventer.
NEA: Please describe your MICD 25 project and what you hope it will bring to the residents of New York City.
WENDY LEVENTER: Culture Shed will be the civic, cultural, and architectural centerpiece of the new Hudson Yards neighborhood that the Hudson Yards Development Corporation (HYDC) is planning and implementing on the far west side of Manhattan. It will be an "un-museum," filling the need for a large scale, highly versatile, multi-disciplinary presentation venue and event space in New York City. Characterized by dynamic architecture that literally transforms itself, Culture Shed will support a large variety of public cultural programs and income generating events.
Culture Shed comprises a five-story base building with museum quality exhibition spaces and two telescoping outer shells that, when deployed, provide expanded conditioned space to accommodate large art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, and galas. While modest in its nested state, the fully deployed Culture Shed will be a 21st-century Crystal Palace---a tall, structurally expressive, light-filled civic icon that expresses its dynamically changing program. Similar scale structures include the Grand Palais in Paris and the Tate Modern in London. As presently conceived, Culture Shed will host a variety of public programs as well as exhibitions produced for its unique spaces. It will also host traveling exhibitions from the U.S. and abroad and will extend the exhibition capabilities of local institutions on a time-share basis. Income-generating events will draw from creative industries such as fashion, music, film, broadcast, architecture, design, and publishing. In its expanded footprint, Culture Shed can also host events that bridge cultural and income-generating categories such as art fairs, art auctions, concerts and film festivals, and fashion events.
NEA: Why is it important to have arts and culture at the table when planning community revitalization efforts?
LEVENTER: The conception of Culture Shed was driven by the desire to promote art and artists as integral components of community life and essential to community planning. The sponsor of Culture Shed, the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, is planning a new district and fundamental to that plan is recognition that a major cultural component will add a dimension to life in this new neighborhood that cannot be replicated in any other way. The enrichment, sense of joy, and exposure to new ideas that art brings cannot be found in mere bricks and mortar or even in a beautiful park. The efforts to include Culture Shed in the first group of tenants in Hudson Yards is to ensure that from its inception the new district will be defined by its multi-dimensional character, and this will exert a strong influence on the way in which the rest of the district is developed. The development of Culture Shed was informed by the understanding that any cultural institution created in this new district must provide a mix of programming that reflects the diversity and demographics of the city in which it is located. That premise has been translated into an institution that will not only offer free or moderately priced programming, but will also offer a wide range of art that represents all points of view. This is achieved by organizing the programming whereby a small number of income-generating private events will provide the subsidy to underwrite arts groups that can not presently afford to bring their work to a wide audience. This opportunity will not only enrich the lives of those who experience the art, it will provide the artists with an outlet that they do not presently have.
NEA: Given the nature of your MICD 25 project, how would you define the term ?public art??
LEVENTER: Public art is conventionally understood as fixed, mute sculpture or installation sited in a public location. Culture Shed reworks this understanding by creating a dedicated public space for the staging of large-scale music, performance, and visual arts, allowing traditionally private forms of art to be redefined through participation in the public realm. While New York?s parks and plazas occasionally accommodate concerts and performances, Culture Shed will create a major public space in the City solely devoted to continuous arts events and programming. Culture Shed allows typically private art forms to become public art; yet as a highly distinctive structure, the building itself walks the line between architecture and public art piece.
NEA: How do you think having a flexible presenting/arts and culture space benefits the civic life of a community?
LEVENTER: Culture Shed?s unique attributes will contribute to the area?s cultural vitality and sense of place by offering innovative community engagement projects. The programming is projected to include both free and moderately priced events for approximately three-quarters of the year and includes community programming, such as concerts, craft and farmers markets, a skating rink, and family festivals, as well as art exhibits, touring art installations, co-commissions, and art partnerships intended to provide the public with the opportunity to experience museum quality installations and projects on a grand scale.
NEA: How important is MICD 25 funding for the success of your project?
LEVENTER: The MICD 25 funding is very important to the success of Culture Shed for several reasons. HYDC does not have adequate funding to complete the next phase of design for the project and therefore the NEA funding is critical in advancing the design of the project. Also, the recognition from the NEA has brought attention to the project and will be very helpful with future fundraising.
NEA: Any last words?
LEVENTER: We would like to thank the NEA for recognizing the important role that art can have in defining the nature of emerging neighborhoods. Culture Shed will have a lasting impact on the character of the Hudson Yards district and the continuing vitality of the arts and culture in New York City.