What’s Happening In The Shed?

BY Katrina Kufer / May 28 2017 / 20:16 PM

New York’s latest $500 million art venture, The Shed, leaves the public dazzled but curious

What’s Happening In The Shed?
Image courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Rendering of The Shed

A new multidisciplinary organisation, The Shed, is set to open in 2019 following a $75 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies. With prompts such as “make it like nowhere else in the world,” from The Shed chairman Daniel Doctoroff, and publicly stated descriptions such as “a multi-arts centre designed to commission, produce and present all types of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture,” the six-level skeleton is already setting expectations high.

Led by artistic director Alex Poots, the proposed programming will include art exhibitions, musical performances, dance and experimental artist labs, which constitute a familiar format. Though the details are still being finalised, the programme will definitively be in dialogue with the architecture of the building, which is also garnering attention.

It has been indicated in news outlets that The Shed is reminiscent of MoMA’s Art Bay – no surprise given the same architecture firm is leading the project – however, while Art Bay never made it past the planning stages, The Shed has already broken ground. “The opportunity for us to design a ground-up building for the arts forced us to ask the question: ‘What will art look like in 10 years? 20 years? 30 years?’ And the answer was that we simply could not know. Artists today are working across disciplines, in all media and all sizes,” stated head architect Elizabeth Diller (Diller Scofidio + Renfro) of the concept. “That will continue to change. The one thing that we could always be certain of is that there would always be a need for space, a need for structural loading capacity, and a need for electrical power.”

What sets The Shed apart from similar venues or the very full New York art scene though, are the details. For example, it will feature a telescoping shell on wheels that is as much a gallery façade as a flexible canopy over a public plaza. The Teflon-pillow insulated steel frame that can be put together in five minutes with the equivalent of the horsepower of one Prius may sound Sci-Fi at this point, but “This project is bone and muscle and there's no fat,” said Diller.

While the public eagerly gathered around the construction site this past week, there are still murmurs on what exactly The Shed is – something that the organisers themselves are not entirely sure of, given that the opening is two years away and they, and the architects, openly embrace a fluid approach to the new culture centre. Despite some understandable vagueness on the programming, what is clear is the niche The Shed will slide into. “There is a need for places to commission new work. It’s more challenging, on many levels, not just financial,” explained Poots to artnet News. “If we don’t make new work then we become a museum culture, which is great but only half the story of culture. We need to look to the past to learn but we also need to imagine the future.”

For more information visit theshed.org