Twenty-first-century New York City is defined by the flashy real estate projects that have transformed the skyline, but few of these sites have contributed to the Big Apple’s creative pulse. Enter Hudson Yards, an 18-million-square-foot residential and commercial development on Manhattan’s West Side, at the northern terminus of the High Line, that boasts serious cultural cred thanks to several newly opened venues.
In March, the area welcomed Thomas Heatherwick’s honeycomb-like Vessel, a climbable, 150-foot-tall sculpture that serves as both a vista point and a reservoir. At the same time, the design firm Snarkitecture debuted an exhibition space, Snark Park, which entices visitors with installations that reinterpret everyday materials. (The first, Lost and Found, is a forest of mammoth columns and mirrored pathways.)
April 5 brings yet another splashy launch with the opening of The Shed, a massive arts center with an adjacent outdoor plaza that can morph into a 1,250-seat covered auditorium in five minutes, thanks to a space-age retractable outer shell. Just as impressive is the center’s commission schedule, which reads like a cool kid’s dream syllabus: a kung-fu musical with songs by Sia, an elaborately staged Björk show, and a concert series on the history of African-American music put together by Quincy Jones and Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen.
What truly separates Hudson Yards from the city’s other exclusive mini-metropoles is its inclusivity. “In every global city right now, things are being built, things are being displaced,” says Alex Poots, The Shed’s artistic director and CEO. “There are pluses and minuses to that, but with The Shed, there was an acknowledgment that there should be something in the plan about giving—something culturally enriching to the society around it.”