18 Hudson Yards
For rethinking the mixed-use urban neighborhood in one of the world’s largest cities
Related Companies Chairman Stephen M. Ross calls his US$25 billion, 28-acre (11-hectare) Hudson Yards development “New York as it should be, with everything you want at your doorstep.” Agree or disagree—and there are plenty in both categories—Hudson Yards is the largest mixed-use private real estate venture in U.S. history. By reimagining a previously uninhabited, ho-hum stretch of Manhattan in New York, New York, USA, the project team unleashed a bold experiment in large-scale urban planning—a city within a city that blends office towers, shopping mall, an arts center and residential skyscrapers at an unprecedented scale. That live-work-play combo makes Hudson Yards an emerging case study for perhaps the most buzzed-about concept for post-pandemic urban planning: the “15-minute city,” providing everything urbanites crave in close proximity.
Though some have criticized the opulent, more-is-more enclave as a symbol of excess, others praise the megaproject’s ambition and innovative design. Here’s a tour of Hudson Yard additions—from The Shed, which opened in April 2019, to skyscrapers still to come—that are reshaping Manhattan’s skyline:
The goal was to create a space to support the city’s arts community for decades to come—without knowing exactly what would one day be needed, says Elizabeth Diller, co-founder and partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architecture firm that designed the US$475 million center.
“The challenge was: How do you build a permanent building for a discipline that is constantly evolving?” she says. While there were fixed requirements—structural loading capacity, electrical loading capacity, climate control—the team was determined to prove that a flexible structure “can have a strong architectural character.”
Diller and her team collaborated with architecture firm Rockwell Group for the initial proposal, emphasizing a space that could house both performing and visual arts. The final product, designed by Diller’s firm, can literally shape-shift to meet the demands of whatever exhibit or cultural event is taking place. “We had to make sure the building had no fat, only muscle, so it could house all the creative disciplines under one roof,” she says.
The eight-story building’s most notable feature is a 120-foot (36-meter) telescopic shell that rolls out on eight small wheels to expand the size of the event space. “The total surface contact for each wheel is the size of the palm of your hand,” Diller says. “And it uses the horsepower of one Prius engine.”
The shell can be fully extended across the adjacent plaza at the push of a button doubling the footprint of the fixed building in just five minutes. Guillotine doors on three sides of the building are lifted by electric drum winches to create an open-air pavilion that is light-, sound and temperature-controlled—with room for 3,000 guests. And it’s eco-friendly: “You don’t have to heat or cool the large space if you’re not using it,” she says. “You can simply nest it.”
Instead of the usual heavy glass facade, The Shed features ethylene tetrafluoroethylene pillows filled with low-pressure air that provide the thermal properties of glass at 1/100th of the weight. The material provides an aesthetic boost, too, making the building look a bit like a hot air balloon ready to float free from the surrounding skyscrapers.
Inside, the gallery spaces offer unobstructed views, separated by glass curtain walls supported by wires. The Shed is already viewed by many as a one-of-a-kind arts center helping other cities reimagine how artists showcase their work. “Though exuberant, The Shed is also humble in a way,” Diller says. “It’s just hardware to support the software that will be brought by the artists and curators.”
Related Sponsors and Organizations
- Capella Garcia Architecture
- Diller Scofidio + Renfro
- Foster + Partners
- José Andrés
- Kohn Pedersen Fox
- Mt. Sinai Hospital
- Oxford Properties Group
- Related Companies
- Rockwell Group
- Thomas Heatherwick