This feat of architectural engineering is part of the Shed, an art and performance space that will become the latest spectacle along New York’s High Line. While the Shed won’t be up and running for more than a year, it can now do this neat five-minute ballet on six-foot wheels.
When first announced, the project was vaguely conceived. Located where the High Line runs smack into the massive West Side development project called Hudson Yards, the Shed seemed hardly more than an architectural trophy, with no obvious reason for being, other than to appease a skeptical public with the promise of some “cultural” amenity on the site of one of the largest and most valuable real estate deals in New York.
Since then, an impresario named Alex Poots, formerly of the Manchester International Festival and the Park Avenue Armory, has taken over programming for the Shed and looks to be giving it a rationale. We’ll see, when the place opens in 2019.
Meanwhile the building, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group, is already taking shape: a six-story box, spooning with an apartment tower and encased inside that telescoping shell, which consists of an enormous steel exoskeleton of slender, crisscrossed columns, like Art Nouveau vines, supporting a feather-light, translucent-white polymer skin.
The gossamer-looking but gigantic structure still weighs in at 8 million pounds but glides on a half-dozen exposed steel “bogies,” or wheels, six-feet in diameter,
with tapered bearings so meticulously engineered that the system requires just six 15-horsepower motors —
in effect, a Toyota Prius engine moving a behemoth as finely-tuned as a…