Starchitect David Rockwell Reveals How Broadway Shapes His Design

We begin our series where the biggest names in architecture discuss luxury design trends with David Rockwell. Among the most prominent talents of his generation this award-winning rock-starchitect designs everything from high-end condos to Broadway stage sets.

You are the ultimate multihyphenate, excelling in design across many platforms. How has your architecture background informed your work, for example, in theater and product design?

For me, the most important link between theater and architecture is the concept of telling a story that connects people emotionally. I think theater does this the best of any art form. My involvement in the theater has transformed the ways I think about narrative, pacing, permanence, and how people use and perceive of space. The key thing about theater is its collaborative storytelling. And for me, narrative is also an integral part of my designs. It is also because of my passion for theater that we focus on how we mark and celebrate an entry, how we choreograph a promenade through spaces, and how we define and enliven transitions for both our theater and architectural work.

The hammam at 111 Murray Street is the centerpiece of the spa area.
Rockwell designed the hammam at 111 Murray Street to be the centerpiece of the spa area. Photo: Courtesy of Rockwell Group/111 Murray Street

How have your current architectural projects for The Shed, Hudson Yards, and 111 Murray Street advanced your concepts about architectural design?

All three projects have allowed us to further explore the concept of transformation through the creation of flexible structures and spaces. For example, the Shed, a new cultural center at Hudson Yards that we are designing with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, will be a five-story fixed building and a telescoping shell that deploys to double the interior space. In terms of interior architecture, 15 Hudson Yards and 111 Murray Street will have amenities that are designed to transform over the course of the day, allowing the spaces to be active day and night.

What’s next for the luxury residential market? How will design concepts evolve for this sector? 

I think there’s a growing interest in health and wellness, particularly the idea of creating an amenities program that emphasizes holistic wellness. Amenities will represent a more well-rounded and balanced selection of activities, from gyms to yoga and spinning studios to steam rooms, saunas, lounge areas for quiet relaxation, and juice bars.

David Rockwell. Photo: Brigitte Lacombe

Which of your architectural projects will be complete in 2017?

Nobu New York’s new home in the landmark 195 Broadway building; Daily Provisions, Union Square Café’s next-door coffee and sandwich shop; the Dream Hotel in Los Angeles; Nobu Hotel Miami Beach; and Bio, a new shopping gallery concept in SoHo.

The iconic New York structure you admire:

Radio City Music Hall. The grand staircase in the lobby still amazes me.