Speeding down the asphalt behemoth of the Florida Turnpike, it’s impossible to miss the latest addition to the swampy peninsula’s flat horizon. Six shafts of fluorescent light climb thousands of feet into the sky, slicing through the Everglades’ winter fog and reducing local air traffic to the appearance of toy planes. Following the light beams to their source, I encounter what can only be an accident-inducing sight: A 450-foot tall, glass-fronted building that’s shaped like an electric guitar—unmistakeably a Hard Rock Hotel. A project seven years in the making, the new Guitar Hotel (which is, needless to say, the world’s first guitar-shaped building) is the frontrunner of a $1.5 billion extension of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The supersized instrument, designed by Klai Juba Wald Architecture, contains 638 guest suites, bringing the total room count of the resort (including the old hotel) to over 1,200. These rooms range from a 700-square-foot standard to a two-floor, 4,000-square-foot “Beyoncé penthouse” designed by Wilson Associates of Dallas. Featuring over three football fields of casino space, a 6,500-seat theatre-style concert venue, a half-dozen pools, a mall, a day-and-nightclub, and dozens of restaurants and bars, the hotel is gearing up to become a global attraction. It already was when I visited. I pulled down Seminole Way just before sunset on a regular Tuesday evening. This palm tree flanked road snakes around the old hotel and casino and then spits me out at the swanky base of the gargantuan guitar, which is flanked by lush lit tropical landscaping, water features, and bow-tied valet boys circling Lamborghinis. A broad spectrum of guests including families with hyperactive kids, solo gamblers, road-tripping bros, and honeymooners all made a beeline for the 18-acre recreational archipelago in front of the Guitar Hotel; I followed suit. Dashing through the glitzy smoke-filled casino, I reach the poolside exit just as a bone-shaking rendition of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” erupts from both sides of the hotel. The building’s glossy façade becomes a psychedelic screen of choreographed color bursts. Miles of LEDs running horizontally along its 35 stories twinkle into ever-busier patterns as the guitar’s ‘strings’—six great shafts of light cutting 20,000 feet into the sky—pulsate maniacally to the beat. My jaw drops when I learn that this epic light show occurs twice nightly. Becoming an international destination is a lofty goal for a building situated in the guts of southern Florida’s highway system: A cacophonous collage of roaring freeways, alligator wrestling megaplexes, smoke shops, used car dealers, RV parks, and sleepy suburbs dotted with manmade water features. But the glowing guitar’s strategic situation on the 497-acre Florida Seminole reservation is as tactical as it gets, both in its flashy design and the political sway of tribe’s global gambling empire. Despite their nonchalant appearance, the Florida Seminoles, a group of around 4,000 (another 18,000 live in Oklahoma, having been forcibly uprooted by white settlers in the 18th century), possesses an indomitable business acumen. They hold an impressive claim to Florida’s booming gambling economy, managing six separate casinos across the sunshine state alone. Before the original Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was erected here in 2004, the Seminoles introduced the country’s first tribe-owned gambling facility—a high stakes bingo hall—in 1979. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida has played the most important role in the origins and development of Indian gaming in the United States of any single tribe,” suggested Matthew L.M. Fletcher, professor of Law & Director of the Indigenous Law & Policy Center at Michigan State University. Initially, erecting casinos on tribe land enabled Native Americans to bypass state gambling legislation across the United States, but disputes between tribes and politicians eventually snowballed into a supreme court case in 1987. This case resulted in the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which allowed Native American tribes to continue their gambling business as usual, so long as they gave a cut of their profits to the state. For the Seminoles, this equates to a hefty $350 million pay-off per year. But Florida’s increased dependency on this bonus revenue has enabled the tribe to sweeten their end of the deal, gaining exclusive rights to many of the highest-grossing casino games, including Blackjack, as outlined in the 2010 Seminole Compact. At the far end of the hotel’s sprawling outdoor complex, the faint upbeat jingle of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” wafts over a water sports pool easily clearing three football fields in length. Canoes, kayaks, and paddle-boards bobble in the phosphorescent blue water. A walking path populated with Floridian flora snakes around the active pool, leading to a state-of-the-art muscle toning outdoor gym that’s pumping the same soundtrack from the machines’ built-in speakers. The hotel sound system is impossible to escape; duck underwater and the feel good™ tunes are only amplified. Unfurling around the active pool like a chain of seasteads is what the hotel calls the ‘Bora Bora experience’: A cluster of sixteen luxury villas with swim-up entrances, private plunge pools, and butler services that are available for hotel guests to rent for the day. Swim-up ground floor suites appear again in the new Oasis tower, a seven-story, 168-room low-rise building that slinks across the southwestern end of the complex and peeks over The Spine, an undulating covered walkway flanked by waterfalls that extends from the base of the guitar. Adjacent ‘Seminole style’ poolside chickees with TVs and fridges are another stay-within-a-stay opportunity. For those craving a beach (this is Florida, after all) there are two themed areas, complete with Floridian sand, tropical lagoon waterfalls, and plenty of palm trees. The interiors are equally glitzy: Caught between an ultra-polished cruise ship and an unspeakably upscale airport, the opulent materials, including leather, marble, wood paneling, and hand-blown glass accents around every corner collectively put Vegas to shame. The Beyoncé penthouse is the crowning jewel of this hedonistic playground. Scattered around the elegant chamber, which, in addition to featuring floor-to-ceiling marble bathrooms, boasts its own private balcony pool, and a miniature Taschen library and various texts on feminist theory—which, rather unsurprisingly, appear untouched. A secret VIP gaming room featuring blackjack and slot machines is available exclusively for celebrities, athletes, and other select guests on floor 34. While the building’s curvaceous guitar shape is an undeniably iconic feat of engineering, there are also more subtle design elements to be commended. Nine floors of generous balconies have been cut into both sides of the guitar and staggered and set back from public view, ensuring that nobody sneaks a peak on your open-air morning shower. An inventive rigging system has been installed for facilitating the cleaning and repair of the windows and lights via telescopic tools kept on top of the building to allow for minimal visual interference for guests (although it’s no small business keeping the glass facade spotless). The most extravagant feature here is The Oculus, a warm, glowing neon beacon located in the hotel lobby. Designed collaboratively between Rockwell Group and Mark Fuller of WET Design Group (the masterminds behind the audacious Dubai Fountain), the Oculus shares some of the same traits and runs its own multisensory mini light shows from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Fourteen concentric panels of laminated glass create a waterfall effect from both in and outside the fountain, with eight holographic projections of various rock ‘n’ roll demigods going on at any one time. A tube of water tumbles down from the dark wood-lined dome, appearing like an alien abduction scene as it’s illuminated by LEDs from above and below. It’s the perfect place to space out after losing one too many rounds of Texas hold ’em. A cocktail bar with its own live music program is located just above The Oculus and offers trippy views down below. Scattered throughout the building is a rotating selection of celebrity accessories from the Hard Rock’s epic 81,000 piece-strong memorabilia archive. On show during my visit was Neil Diamond’s classic thunderbird car and some choice outfits of Britney Spears and Björk, among others; the rest is kept in a vault in Fort Lauderdale. A built-in marble-floored mall that stretches 26,000 square feet offers boutique stores, caviar outlets, cigar lounges, and even an indoor miniature golf course. Around the Hard Rock complex are nineteen restaurants and 20 bars. On the other end of the mall, a heavenly escalator will whisk you away to DAER, a 44,000-square-foot nightclub and “day club” (remarkably, South Florida’s first), where the whos-who of EDM and dance let loose around a Steve Lieberman-designed LED centerpiece. Buried in the bowels of the building is the new Hard Rock Live: a 7,000-capacity theater designed by Canadian entertainment gurus Scéno Plus and broken in with a set by Maroon 5. Sixty-five-hundred spacious seats offer unobstructed views across the acoustically pure clamshell-shaped theatre. Golden VIP couches offer nonstop cocktail service for the fortunate, but there’s not a dud seat in the house, with the back row less than 50 yards away from the stage. A dozen shows, performances, and concerts are planned for February alone (Rod Stewart fans, listen up.) Then, of course, there is the gambling. The new Guitar Hotel adds 150,000 square feet of gaming space with 7,000 seats at 195 tables, effectively doubling the original size of the casino. Popular games like blackjack, mini-baccarat, and Spanish 21 are on the menu, alongside over new 3,000 slot machines and a high limit slot room. There is even a designated non-smoking section—but tucked behind drab black curtains, it’s a bit of a hard sell. Apart from the name and the sawgrass-scented bath accessories in the suites, there’s hardly a trace of Seminole about this place. But, ask any member of the tribe and they’ll tell you they prefer it that way. The Vegas-inspired razzmatazz is all part of the Hard Rock franchise’s cultish draw, and it equals more cash in their pockets. “The Seminoles don’t interfere with the Hard Rock brand,” explained Gary Bitner, president and founder of Bitner Group, the PR firm behind the new hotel. “It’s been that way since Jim Allen took the helm and the Seminoles began generating the bulk of the franchise profits.” A businessman originally from New Jersey, Allen can largely be credited for the Florida Seminoles’ monopoly over Floridian gambling. He’s helmed the tribe’s gambling operations as the chief executive officer of Seminole Gaming since 2001, following stints at Atlantis Bahamas and The Trump Organization. It’s under his reign that the Seminoles acquired the Hard Rock brand back in 2007 for $906 million, beating out 72 competitors including titans of the hospitality industry, and extending the tribe’s casino empire up the East Coast and into the American heartland. Looking at Allen’s track record of designing casinos out in paradise, it becomes easy to see how the building harnesses paradisiacal escapism and exudes rock’n’roll charisma all at once, to mass appeal. That its rooms have been almost fully booked since the building’s star-studded opening in October, which drew the likes of Johnny Depp and Khloe Kardashian, alongside an amped-up light show and event schedule planned for the year ahead, suggests the Guitar Hotel has no intentions of slowing its tempo. Its 2020 “Big Game” commercial, which featured Jennifer Lopez, DJ Khaled, Pitbull, and other high-profile celebrities on a wild race across the hotel’s lagoon-filled landscape for JLo’s “Bling Cup”—launching pineapple grenades, paddleboarding in stilettos, and even crashing a Stevie Van Zandt concert to retrieve the rhinestoned god-tier Starbucks thermos—is the latest testament to the brand’s ability to enlist pop culture and conjure the spectacular with a virtually limitless budget. While it’s fair play to criticize the very existence of a guitar-shaped luxury hotel as our relationship with the Earth grows more precarious, or find fault with the detrimental social impact of gambling, which preys on minorities and unemployed, you can walk away from a weekend at the Guitar Hotel knowing the livelihood of the Seminoles grows stronger for it. In addition to a $1,000 check paid out monthly in their name along with free college tuition, every tribe member currently receives dividends of their gambling empire paid out to around $128,000 a year. In other words, every Seminole member reaches adulthood with over $2 million in reserves. Rarely do ethnic minorities make it so big in the US — a country that built its wealth on the forced displacement, persecution and eradication of indigenous groups. At the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel, the right guys are on the winning end of your bad poker face.
Posts tagged with "Rockwell Group":
Nearly six months after the opening of Hudson Yards, and five after the opening of the Shed (now The Bloomberg Building), it has come to our attention that there has been a snafu at the Shed, the “new Fun Palace” designed by DS+R and Rockwell Group for New York's Hudson Yards. Heralded as a flexible platform for performance and arts of all kinds, the movable elements such as the translucent ETFE sheath and interior walls are what give life to the $485 million complex. However, recent reports indicate that there were some hurried details in the large gallery space, and the temporary partitions do not work. The floor grid does not align with the ceiling grid, making it impossible to install the partitions as originally designed. As such, the gallery currently can’t be subdivided. Whoops! Shoddy construction? Budget cuts? Blame the architects? UPDATE: In a statement, Diller Scofidio + Renfro told AN, "The Shed utilizes anchors in the floor to cantilever freestanding partitions, which allows for a thinner dimension than most fixed museum walls that are typically braced from the ceiling. The same system was used successfully for The Broad museum's gallery floors. In a few limited instances, construction deviations left the anchors slightly off center. The wall system has easily adapted to these conditions and continues to serve the Shed well. For example, Level 2 was partitioned to separate the two different performances (choral and orchestral) of Reich Richter Pärt." In other Shed news, on the heels of a $250,000-a-plate fundraiser for President Trump’s reelection held by CEO and chairman of The Related Companies Stephen Ross, calls to boycott The Shed have been growing. According to Hyperallergic, artists Zackary Drucker and A.L. Steiner withdrew their contribution to the Shed’s Open Call show, Rag & Bone dropped out of the Fashion Week show that would be held in the Shed, and artist Thanushka Yakupitiyage staged a “Decolonize This Place” performance on Sunday, August 25, in protest. Yakupitiyage, through a combination of remixed music, dance, and audio clips put on MigrantScape as part of Open Call and spoke out against the government’s treatments of migrants—as well as Ross’s complicity. The piece was put on on top of the concrete plaza in front of the building, which, when the ETFE envelope is rolled forward, forms the 17,000-square-foot McCourt space, the venue’s main performing area. In more positive news, The Shed was named to TIME Magazine’s second annual list of the World’s 100 Greatest Places today, placing it in high accolades among other exemplary recent projects, such as Snøhetta’s underwater restaurant and a suite of refined museums.
Lawn, the interactive exhibition designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group, is now open at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. As the latest iteration of the museum’s Summer Block Party series, the pop-up installation pays tribute to how humans spend time in the many open green spaces that flourish during the sunny season. “As we delved deeper into the design process, it became clear that so many of the summertime activities that we look forward to enjoying with friends and family each year take place on a ‘lawn’— whether it’s a yard, a public park, a playground, or a rooftop,” said David Rockwell, founder and president of Rockwell Group, in a statement. “Lawn is our celebration of this iconic idea.” As the background of several season-long events, the LAB imagined the exhibition as a giant lawn where visitors could come, connect, and play with one another, while also observing the museum’s Renaissance Revival architecture up close. The green expanse was built on a sloping superstructure made of scaffolding that lightly undulates and then levels out towards the center of the museum's Great Hall. It’s a rectangular space that cuts directly through eight of the parallel Corinthian columns signature to the museum’s interior; they’re among the largest in the world and measure 75 feet tall. Additionally, the LAB suspended blue hammocks from the building’s 100-foot-tall ceiling grid, each of which features audio recordings of stories from Americans such as Venus Williams, Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Stamberg, Jose Andres, and more. Also scattered throughout Lawn are sets of white lounge chairs, umbrella stands, and equipment for spontaneous games of cornhole, cricket, bocce ball, and dominoes. The LAB designed a scaffolding tower at the top of the lawn which offers views of the museum’s third floor and the column capitals. The sides of the tower are subtly covered in clouds, which allows it to stand out in contrast to both the dark and light green colors of the lawn. The grass-like floor has a “just-mowed” effect. During the daytime, the sun streams in from the clerestory windows of the museum, giving the installation an outside feel. Another element that contributes to the simulated outdoor experience is the distilled audio of distant crickets chirping, bees buzzing, and lawnmowers at work. The design team collaborated with Yessian Music, a soundscape production company, to envelope the space in these classic summer sounds. Furthermore, the LAB developed an augmented reality game for kids and adults that provides them the chance to chase, collect, and release fireflies throughout the museum. On view through September 2, the Lab at Rockwell Group’s Lawn comes on the heels of past exhibitions for the Summer Block Party series by Snarkitecture, Studio Gang, James Corner Field Operations, and Bjarke Ingels Group.
Brought to you with support fromOpened in April 2019, Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s (DS+R) and Rockwell Group's The Shed is an eight-level, 200,000-square-foot art center located on the southern, 30th Street flank of Hudson Yards. The project has received acclaim for its operable features, notably its gliding ETFE-clad shell and multi-ton doors.
the McCourt, to effectively function as an open-air pavilion. The structural steel for the doors was fabricated with predrilled mounting for the glass facade and was assembled on site with kinetic components that facilitate proper guidance and alignment. Coordinating with kinetics contractors and fabricators proved a challenging aspect of the project. “Typically, kinetics contractors are quite independent of other construction elements,” said Charles Berman, associate principal of DS+R. “We had the opportunity to work with these trades in early engagement, design-build processes which ultimately led to the best path to success.” Along the north elevation, the door measures 25 feet wide and 32 feet tall, while along the east it is 33 feet wide and 32 feet tall. Each door weighs approximately 30 tons and is lifted by a pair of electric drum winches that pull braided stainless steel wired cables through a series of roller bearings. The system is also integrated with brakes and lockout assemblies to allow for variegated opening heights. In total, raising the doors to their maximum height of 32 feet takes nearly two and a half minutes. The Shed adjoins DS+R and the Rockwell Groups adjacent 15 Hudson Yards along a seam of polished steelwork. Many of the mechanical components of the performance space are embedded within the podium of the tower, ventilated by parametrically designed glass-and-louver modules.The large operable doors, dubbed “guillotine doors,” are located on the north and east elevations of the structure. When lifted, they allow the central performance space, or
The 2019 Summer Block Party installation at the National Building Museum has been revealed, and the LAB at Rockwell Group will install a faux indoor “lawn” in the great hall of the Washington, D.C., museum. Lawn will run from July 4 through September 2, and visitors can expect to find a facsimile of a park within. Rockwell Group has attempted to recreate an all-American summer inside the museum via a series of high-tech interventions, and the installation of an elevated (artificial) lawn that gradually rises on scaffolding. Visitors to Lawn can scale an inclined slope to the lawn, which will feature a number of communal areas and hammocks suspended from the 100-foot-tall ceiling. From that elevated vantage point, guests can gaze down at the pixelated sky pattern made of tile on the floor of the reception area below. At the very top of the lawn will be a scaffolding tower that will rise to the museum’s third floor and will offer views of the sculptural busts on the roof. Every hammock will be embedded with hidden speakers and that will play summertime stories from “prominent American storytellers,” according to Rockwell Group. Instead of catching real fireflies, LAB has designed an augmented reality experience where guests can chase and “catch” fireflies across the lawn using their phones. Rockwell Group appears to have taken a cue from last year’s Fun House installation from Snarkitecture, as the entire experience seems eminently Instagrammable. Bold colors, a stark delineation of programming, and the commodification of a shared, common experience have been successfully deployed across a number of pop-up museums and experience spaces. The titular lawn itself, while fake, was produced by SynLawn and will be totally recycled after the exhibition is taken down. The faux-grass is made from sugarcane, while the backing comes from soybeans. The scaffolding will be disassembled and used elsewhere as well. Admission to Lawn is included in the price of a National Building Museum ticket, and the museum will be activating the space at night to host movie screenings, yoga, and meditation classes, among other events.
After 11 years and two mayoral administrations, The Shed (now just the name of the administering arts center, with the physical structure housing the organization having been renamed The Bloomberg Building) is nearly ready to open. On April 5, this Friday, the public will finally get to venture inside Manhattan’s newest, and largest, cultural institution. As Hudson Yards welcomes the Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group–designed multidisciplinary arts center, much has been written about the building’s central, inescapable feature. The 120-foot-tall outer shell, clad in ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) “pillows,” can extend out from the base building when needed for larger performances, covering the public plaza and creating the 17,000-square-foot, climate-controlled McCourt space. When the shell is rolled back, the 20,000-square-foot outdoor plaza can be used for open-air performances. Art is even part of the very ground below, as artist Lawrence Weiner has embedded IN FRONT OF ITSELF in 12-foot-high letters using colored pavers throughout the plaza. As Elizabeth Diller and David Rockwell have repeatedly described, The Shed was conceived with maximum flexibility in mind. The comparisons and claims of inspiration from Cedric Price’s unrealized, constantly changing 1964 Fun Palace have been overt, whether rightly or wrongly. Either way, there’s no contesting that the space represents a blank space for artists to call their own. “I see the building as an ‘architecture of infrastructure,’ all muscle, no fat,” said Diller, “and responsive to the ever-changing needs of artists into a future we cannot predict. Success for me would mean that the building would stand up to challenges presented by artists, while challenging them back in a fruitful dialogue.” Four stories of programming live inside the eight-level base building. Floors two and four hold a combined 25,000 square feet of gallery spaces without columns and with 19-foot-tall ceilings. From April 6 through June 2, the second level gallery will display Reich Richter Pärt, a combination of choir songs from composer Steve Reich set against tapestries and wallpaper, some of them room-spanning, from artist Gerhard Richter. Swinging glass doors on the eastern walls of each gallery can open them up to the McCourt, allowing the venue to add additional seating when necessary. The sixth floor holds the Kenneth C. Griffin Theater, an 11,700-square-foot black box space with a 500-seat capacity. The theater can also be split in two to host smaller shows. On the top floor are the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Skylights, a wide, multipurpose section that affords one of the few views towards the rest of Hudson Yards, including a prominent view of Vessel. The open area features 9,500-square-feet of flexible event space, the 1,700-square-foot Tisch Lab for local artists, and a 3,300-square-foot rehearsal space. The two namesake skylights provide the entire floor with plenty of natural light, making up for the difference in ceiling heights found throughout the rest of the building—the eighth floor’s ceiling is noticeably lower. Hints of the building’s superstructure and its transforming shell are ever-present. The Bloomberg Building’s central set of scissoring escalators run parallel with the glass curtain wall and affords ample views of the shell, and the bent seam where the shell meets the adjoining tower. Inside the McCourt, the steel diagrid underpinning the ETFE facade reveals itself, creating a vastly different experience than viewing the building from outside. The High Line runs level with the windows on the second floor, reinforcing the connection to the park, strangely minimizing the feeling that the building is part of Hudson Yards proper. The Shed opens on April 5 with Soundtrack of America, a five-night concert series conceived and directed by Steve McQueen that celebrates the worldwide impact of African American music. The full lineup is available on The Shed’s website, here.
The weather outside may be dropping to sub-zero temperatures across much of the U.S., but the National Building Museum is already looking to summer. The Washington, D.C.–based museum announced today that the LAB at Rockwell Group, the firm’s cross-disciplinary, technology-oriented experience design studio, will be designing the 2019 Summer Block Party installation. This year, from July 4 through September 2, The Lawn will take over the great hall of the National Building Museum. While no design details have been released yet, it’s likely that The Lawn will be just as immersive as the past installations in the space. Last year’s Funhouse from Snarkitecture brought back the firm's popular Beach exhibition from 2015, and 2017’s towering Hive from Studio Gang used the hall’s 75-foot-high ceilings as an opportunity to build vertically. The Lawn will be supplemented with relevant programs and events throughout its run. This isn’t the first time the Rockwell Group has exhibited in the National Building Museum; its PLAY WORK BUILD installation in 2012 highlighted the links between design, play, and “the work of building professionals.”
Brought to you with support fromDiller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) and Rockwell Group's first skyscraper, 15 Hudson Yards, is now complete after four years of construction. The 88-story residential tower fuses the largest cold-warped glass curtain wall in North America with a louver and limestone base. The tower is located on the southwestern flank of Hudson Yards's first phase located on 28 acres between 30th and 34th Streets, and 10th and 11th Avenues. One of the sites many towers, 15 Hudson Yards alone will enclose a whopping 980,000 square feet. The 914-foot-tall project rises from a CNC-fabricated limestone base sourced from Carrara, Italy. According to the design team, parametric guidelines and 3-D modeling facilitated a seamless design-to-fabrication process for both the approximately 1800 stone panels and their steel support systems produced in Queens and New Jersey. The rear of each panel is studded with metal angles fastened to a network of bent plates attached to the steel support system.
The Shed, also designed by DS+R and Rockwell Group, adjoins the smooth limestone surface of 15 Hudson Yards along a diagonal seam defined by polished and formed steelwork by CIG Architecture. Incorporating the dynamic performance arts space into the base of the tower presented a number of mechanical and structural challenges for the design team. The 48.7-inch-wide modules all have both a glass and ventilation louver component. The designers varied the ratio of the two pieces parametrically to best ventilate interior mechanical equipment, with the widths of the louvers ranging from 4 to 31 inches. Beginning at the 20th story, the tower dramatically curves using a cold-warped unitized glass curtain wall system. The individual glazing units, produced by German manufacturer Interpane, were cold-warped on site. To warp the glass components, the panels were held in trapezoidal frames with silicone seal joints that anticipated the final form of the panels once they were bent into place. While early renderings of the project depicted 15 Hudson Yards with anatomical undulations, cost constraints and manufacturer warranties straightened the design into its current form. “We worked very closely with curtain wall fabricators from concept through execution, and the tower’s form is a product of this close collaboration,” said facade consultant Neil Thelen. “Using a collaborative parametric approach, we were able to iterate and analyze the impact of the tower’s curved forms on critical parameters such as IGU cold-warping, aluminum extrusion die option, unique part and assembly reduction, gasket engagement, and window operation.” Above the amenity spaces located roughly halfway up the tower—which are clad with glass mega panels—the facade's curvature increases dramatically, effectively breaking into four turrets. The glass panels deflect up to 8 inches at the skyscraper's summit. Although the dimensions and material of the facade differ throughout the tower, the cladding all attaches to the structural frame with a similar technique. “There are embedded plates in the slab edges to which faceplates are bolted with adjustable screws to align bearing points for each wall unit. Each curtain wall unit has a pair of load bearing hooks at the top where the dead load is transferred to the building structure from the hooks,” said DS+R project director John Newman. “It hangs from there and interlocks with a large, gasketted tongue-and-groove extrusion at the top of the unit below.” In response to river-borne gusts, the facade is designed to withstand 100-year wind loads with a system of structural silicone profiles, mullions, and steel reinforcements for spans greater than twelve feet. Additionally, testing conducted by an independent lab determined the placement of supplemental-load bearing aluminum extrusions.
For over three years, New York City has anticipated the debut of Hudson Yard’s enigmatic “Shed”: the eight-level, 200,000-square-foot art center with a massive, telescoping outer shell. On April 5, the new center will finally open its doors, hosting a variety of exhibitions, lectures, and events related to the performing arts, visual arts, and pop culture. The innovative building was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, lead architect, and Rockwell Group, collaborating architect. Its sleek, flexible, and mobile layout was inspired by the industrial past of the High Line and West Side Rail Yard, and the building’s form is intended to physically transform depending on artists’ visions. Its blueprint includes two levels of gallery space, a multipurpose theater, a rehearsal space, a creative lab, and a 9,500-square-foot sky-lit space for large-scale events. Reminiscent of a train car, the building’s semi-transparent outer shell can glide along rails onto a neighboring plaza to nearly double the building’s footprint for grandiose concerts and performances. The massive light, sound, and temperature-controlled hall can be used as a blank slate to support artists' and performers’ most creative and ambitious ideas. “We have built a home where established and emerging artists working in all disciplines can create new work in ways that we cannot even imagine,” said The Shed’s Artistic Director and CEO, Alex Poots. The venue will host an assortment of events ranging from comedy shows to concerts. The first year of programming will include lectures by filmmaker Boots Riley, a Björk concert directed by John Tiffany, and a Kung Fu musical featuring songs by Sia. The building will be named to “The Bloomberg Building” after a generous, $75 million donation from Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor who oversaw the dramatic gentrification of Manhattan’s Westside and Hudson Yards. With only three months until its launch, The Shed will go through the final phases of construction, which includes the installation of metal cladding and other architectural finishes. Correction: A previous version of this article said that The Shed's name will change, but only the building the institution is housed in will be known at The Bloomberg Building.
What’s most surprising about Rockwell Group’s design for R17, the new speakeasy-inspired lounge atop Lower Manhattan’s Pier 17, is that it’s not flashy. In contrast to the stand-out building it’s housed in, the 1,830-square-foot restaurant and bar provides a chic setting for cocktail and wine lovers to casually get a drink after work without being inundated by the holiday crowd that’s currently shrouding the South Street Seaport district. While the majority of the structure’s rooftop will transform next week into a veritable winter wonderland complete with New York’s newest ice-skating rink, the bar itself is designed to maintain an aura of intimacy. At least, that’s how Rockwell Group envisions it. “We wanted to create a calming atmosphere that people could escape to,” said Senior Interior Designer Renee Burdick, “similar to how New Yorkers might escape to a cabin or chalet upstate during winter.” But that vision is completely seasonal. For The Howard Hughes Corporation, the group that owns the mixed-use development, the design team crafted a “pop-up” space that will transition in both style and setting from a winter pavilion into a summer pavilion. While R17 can only accommodate around 70 people now, when it’s floor-to-ceiling sliding doors are open in the warmer months and the dining area expands onto a tiered terrace, the space effectively quadruples in size, increasing capacity to 300. The current cabin vibes, created thanks to low-lighting, fur pillows, dark-hued furniture, and textured wool rugs, will be replaced with a lighter material palette and beachy upholstery. The large fireplaces will become settings for playful art installations. This “transformative” approach to interior architecture is very site-specific, said Rockwell Group. Not many hospitality projects have the bandwidth to literally flip the space throughout the year. “The programming shift here is enormous,” said Richard Chandler, associate principal and studio leader at Rockwell Group. “It will have a completely different look and feel in the summer. We'll add new pieces to the design every year so it’ll always be evolving.” Some things about the lounge will stay the same. Its anchoring design feature is a blue onyx-topped bar with a sand-colored wavy tile that serves as siding. Burdick says it’s designed to look like a mountain skyline. These two elements bring a feel of fluidity to the space, along with the large-format printed tiles on the floor, that contain brushstrokes of blue, silver, and gray. The motif of movement is continuously carried out on the ceiling and windows, which include metallic threads and gilded wood-and-metal screens respectively. These help tone down the bright sunlight that may stream into the space during the day and shield restaurant-goers from the lively scene going on outside, which Rockwell Group will outfit with a temporary bar and lounge that’s reminiscent of a ski lodge interior. These “warming huts” will be shaped to mimic the urban water towers found atop buildings across the city. Much like these locally-inspired building shapes, R17 boasts an array of city, state, and American-made materials that complement the mountain chalet and Long Island beach home concepts. The space serves as a new living room for the city—with arguably the best view of the Brooklyn Bridge in all of Manhattan. It doesn’t have a flamboyant entrance and isn’t suffocated by the bright, technicolor lights that glare out of Pier 17 at night. It’s an understated, flexible space that’s simple and luxurious. Although, in the summer, Rockwell Group plans that the expanded scale, along with the pier’s popular summer concert series, will bring a different kind of festive and potentially exclusive energy to new bar and restaurant. According to Chandler, we'll have to wait and see.
Ahead of its spring 2019 opening, The Shed has selected 52 emerging artists in New York City for its inaugural Open Call program. The cultural organization announced the news on Monday, unveiling the chosen individual artists and collectives and how their work will be integrated into Open Call. “We launched Open Call with the intent of creating a meaningful opportunity for emerging artists to make new work,” said Tamara McCaw, chief civic program officer at The Shed. “A fundamental part of our mission is to engage our local communities and support New York City’s diverse talent.” Each artist, either local to New York or showing work in the city, will be allocated a stipend between $7,000 and $15,000 based on the scope of their proposed projects. The commissioned work will be displayed throughout The Shed’s principal performance venues, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group, during the 2019 spring–winter season. Theater and dance performances will be held inside the building’s black-box theater, while art, sculpture, and other mediums will be situated within the 12,5000-square-foot, column-free Gallery 1. Larger-scale performances, also including theater and dance, as well as bigger art pieces will be shown in the 17,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor plaza. Over 900 applications were submitted for Open Call over a three-month period starting last March. A panel of nearly 30 New York–based designers, filmmakers, academics, artists, and performers came together to review the proposals, including The Shed’s main staff. All exhibitions and programs on view during its first year will be free and open to the public. You can learn more about the artists and their planned work here.
Rockwell Group’s design for the recently opened Blue School in New York City falls outside the lines of traditional design for primary and secondary education, especially in the cramped Big Apple. While the school includes many basic elements such as closed-door classrooms and a sizable cafeteria, the one thing the architects were expected to uniquely incorporate for the private school, which was founded by alumni of the Blue Man Group, is color. Lots of color. Stretched across four floors of a mixed-use, former medical building in Manhattan’s Financial District, the school serves as a “home away from home” for its kids, featuring flexible spaces and playful palettes that encourage creative self-expression and pride at all ages. The Blue School opened last month for its inaugural semester, welcoming 100 students and 70 faculty members through its shiny glass doors under a neon sign signaling its presence in the neighborhood. The 45,000-square-foot facility is the New York-based institution’s second campus designed by Rockwell Group. It provides much-needed breathing room for the school’s fourth through eighth-grade levels, which were previously housed in what’s now the primary school located in the South Street Seaport. Thanks to the move, pre-kindergarten through third-grade students were also given more space inside their facility, which opened in 2010. For the Upper School, as the new facility is known, Rockwell Group leveled up the design out of respect for the older children, who naturally are becoming more mature as they age. The architects outfitted the space with a bright, eye-catching interior and a layout designed to spark personal discovery as well as collaboration. “There’s a sense of respect the kids feel in spaces designed for them,” said Michael Fischer, the associate principal who led the design with David Rockwell. “They have autonomy, feel empowered and trusted.” Upon walking through the doors of the new Blue School, students, teachers, and guests are greeted with a lobby sporting a lounge-like feel, as well a high-gloss, neon yellow central staircase that serves as the main point of circulation in the facility. To the left in a community space called the Commons, colorful outdoor furniture adds a contemporary twist to the cafeteria setting along with bleacher-like seating wrapped in wood and staggered along the walls for a topographical effect. Additionally, a bar with stools lines the edge of the 1,800-square-foot space overlooking the street. The Commons also includes walls lined with LED-lit garden planters where food is grown as part of the school’s science curriculum as well as for students’ meals. The living wall is maintained in partnership with Brooklyn Grange and enhances the living room-like atmosphere of the shared space. On the basement level, Rockwell Group created a grown-up version of their Imagination Playground system with which students can construct their own seating stations using shapely, blue-foam cushions. The surrounding walls are clad with colorful, geometric wallpaper by Flavor Paper. Two studios as well as a column-free gymnasium, which doubles as a 130-seat auditorium—the Blue School’s first ever performance space—were also designed for the school’s arts and exercise programs. If flexibility is an integral part of the Blue School’s educational philosophy and its interior architectural design, the concept is most evident on the top floors where each learning space includes key elements that allow teachers and students to take over space how they see fit. Rockwell Group collaborated with Uhuru to create non-directional trapezoidal desks that can be easily set up to form clusters for group-work situations. Each classroom also includes a raised carpeted platform dedicated to quiet reading or presentations. An art room, maker lab, and materials library were also given major space on the second floor. Both are fully stocked with every kind of arts and engineering supply imaginable, from paint brushes to saws, to glue and glass. An adjacent materials library—open to the kids at all times—serves several fields of study and specific STEAM courses. The Blue School’s library features a book-lined, double-height reading space with a massive sofa and custom common tables by Rockwell Group for Knoll. Hanging from the ceiling next to the curtain-wall window is a light sculpture designed in collaboration with Dot Dash Design. It changes colors throughout the day and amplifies the school’s interior at night. From the street level, passersby can see activity within the facility and students get a sense of inclusion in the bustling neighborhood. Since the Blue School began in 2006, it has added one grade level per year to its roster of students—hence the need to build out a new campus for its burgeoning population. The first group of kids to begin at the school recently graduated from 8th grade and though they never had the chance to move into the new Upper School, they were integrated into the extensive planning process that Rockwell Group held with students, parents, and teachers. The school expects the number of students to double over the next several years. Blue School will featured as an Open Access site during Open House New York this Saturday, October 13th. Check it out from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or go on a guided tour with representatives from Blue School and Rockwell Group at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. Reservations are not required.