City courting community approval of Culture Shed at Related’s Hudson Yards

April 03, 2013 11:00AM

City officials are trying to stir up interest in the Culture Shed, a massive exhibition and event space in Related Cos. Hudson Yards development, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

Officials have taken a series of steps in recent months to get the project on its feet and attract community support. They revealed designs showing a transparent 125-foot-tall shell that runs around the building and would roll out to surround an 18,000-square-foot plaza adjacent to the High Line. They have secured tax-exempt status for a nonprofit group that would operate the space and have assembled a board of directors, whose three members include one current and one former member of the Bloomberg administration.

The proposal has also received the endorsement of cultural stalwarts such as the directors of the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.The board is still to estimate the cost of construction, however, and no hiring or fundraising has yet begun. The delay in appraising the cost of the project, Ryan Max, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, told the Journal, was because of difficulty in estimating the cost of the high-tech material on the shell that “has not been used very much on projects in the United States.”

“The idea here is to see a space that serves the broadest spectrum of the creative sector in New York City,” Kate Levin, the city’s commissioner for cultural affairs and a member of Culture Shed’s board, told the Journal. A project of this type, Levin added, was key to the the city’s capability to remain on the forefront of innovation.

Construction could start in the summer of 2014 and is slated to be finished at the end of 2017, Levin said. The shed must be built in tandem with the platform over the West Side rail yards and a 70-story residential tower which will connect to it.

Despite the city’s efforts, members of Manhattan’s Community Board 4 are skeptical. The board is expected to recommend on Wednesday that the City Planning Commission deny the city’s zoning application, unless the city can devise an alternative 20,000 square feet of public space at Hudson Yards. [WSJ]  – Hiten Samtani