De­vel­op­ment fea­tures a mov­able build­ing

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Deepti Ha­jela

NEW YORK » The city’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics in a re­built neigh­bor­hood of rail yards and in­dus­trial build­ings never came to fruition, but the mas­sive Hud­son Yards pro­ject ris­ing there now isn’t suf­fer­ing from a lack of Olympic-size am­bi­tion.

Af­ter five years of con­struc­tion, a $25 bil­lion mini-city has been tak­ing shape on Man­hat­tan’s West Side where of­fi­cials once wanted to build an Olympic and NFL sta­dium.

The de­vel­op­ment, which will in­clude a ho­tel, a school, a re­tail mall, restau­rants, pub­lic plazas and a sky­scraper taller than the Em­pire State Build­ing, is in­tended to trans­form what was one of the last un­der­used, in­dus­trial stretches of Man­hat­tan into a des­ti­na­tion like Rock­e­feller Cen­ter.

And there’s hope a per­form­ing arts cen­ter be­ing built in the area called The Shed will make it a cul­tural draw.

The four-story-high build­ing, now par­tially com­plete, is equipped with a me­chan­i­cal marvel: a gi­ant tele­scop­ing shell that can be ex­tended to turn an ad­ja­cent, pub­lic open-air plaza into a cli­mate-con­trolled per­for­mance hall with 120-foot ceil­ings.

Made of a steel frame cov­ered by translu­cent pan­els, the shell rests on gi­ant wheels that slide along rails to move it out to cover the plaza, which then be­comes a space called The McCourt, named in honor of busi­ness­man Frank McCourt Jr., who do­nated $45 mil­lion to the pro­ject, an in­de­pen­dent non­profit cul­tural or­ga­ni­za­tion. The shell de­ploys in five min­utes, at a speed of a quar­ter-mile per hour.

When in use, the shell can hold an au­di­ence of 1,250 seated or 2,700 stand­ing, which can come up to 3,000 when com­bined with space from the fixed build­ing.

At a pre­sen­ta­tion to an­nounce part of the per­for­mance sched­ule for The Shed’s in­au­gu­ral 2019 sea­son, Robert Katchur, an as­so­ciate prin­ci­pal at Diller Scofidio and Ren­fro, the de­sign firm that in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Rock­well Group came up with the con­cept of the shell, said the idea was to give the art pre­sented there as much room as pos­si­ble, in­stead of be­ing lim­ited to the space in the fixed build­ing alone or to an open-air plaza that could be used only in good weather.

“We wanted it to be able to en­gage with the pub­lic realm,” he said.

When not be­ing used, the

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