Directly on the High Line in Manhattan's new Hudson Yards business district, Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group have created 'The Shed' inspired by avant-garde architecture.
This compact, eight-storey structure has a silvery, shining skin made of Texlon® ETFE foil cushions on the main building, and includes two pillar-free gallery levels totalling 2,300 square metres. There is a theatre that can be divided into several areas with up to 500 seats, as well as rehearsal and event spaces on the top floor. The architects’ vision was to design The Shed as a multifunctional and transformable building. The size of the venue can be nearly doubled by a movable steel roof construction covered in Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) is a fluorine-based plastic, allowing for large-scale installations, events and performances.
On both sides, the shell's structure rests on one double and two single axles, whose double wheels, the height of a man, are mounted on rails. Within five minutes, the structure, including the 148 ETFE cushions, can be moved across the 1,700-square-metre forecourt to the east. This creates a hall space called McCourt, which is designed for up to 2,700 people.
The design specification of the retractable building shell suggested a façade solution which has both a low net weight and high tolerances with respect to vibrations resulting from movement. The architects, therefore, opted for a membrane skin based on the Texlon ® ETFE system by Vector Foiltec. 146 three-layer and two four-layer foil cushions cover a total area of 4,110 square metres. The two four-layer ETFE cushions are located on the north side at the very edge of the main building. Due to the extreme wind loads expected at this point, they are equipped with a patented load sharing valve. This also necessitated the use of an additional foil layer, which (just like the underlying foil) is 300 microns thick. Also exposed to high wind loads, are the adjacent three-layer cushions and the upper edge areas of the construction.
The type, colour and intensity of the foil prints were presented using a 1:1 mock-up in New York and specified with the architects in an intensive design process. A dot matrix printed on the top foil reflects strong solar radiation. The ETFE shell thus achieves a very low g-value of 0,40. It also protects the main building as a radiation-reflecting second skin. Since the printing on the top foils of the Texlon® ETFE cushions must not cast any shadows in the interior, so the centre foils were made translucent. In order to ensure that the hall can be darkened and, at the same time, soundproofed, the Shed uses multi-layer fabric and textile membrane panels mounted on the inside of the steel support structure.
The four air supply units (1300 x 800 x 750 mm) for the ETFE foil cushions, as well as all the event technology, are housed in the roof level of the steel structure. The air supply ducts were laid in a concealed way due to the elevations between the Texlon® ETFE system and the supporting structure. Another constructional feature of the Shed is the vertical cover profiles of the ETFE shell, which are designed as rails. For maintenance purposes, a roller system for raising and lowering a maintenance basket is mounted in the façade.
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