Architectural Design: Dance Machine
Due mainly to the redevelopment of the High Line, the Meatpacking District is transforming itself into a thriving neighbourhood. A dynamic street life is becoming the norm as a diverse mix of boutique galleries, restaurants, markets, businesses, hotels and fashion stores occupy and appropriate the remains of the district’s industrial past. The site for the dance theatre lies right in the heart of this hub of activity and thus the negotiation between the architecture to this site determined the basis for this project.
With the High Line to its west, the Standard Hotel to the south, and restaurants and stores sharing Washington and 13th Streets, the site called for a non-traditional theatre. This theatre does not enclose itself within protective layers to separate it from the outside world; rather, it allows both its program and the activity of its surroundings to shape its form. The precedent of Alice Tully Hall takes advantage of tectonic strategies to draw people in from the diagonal of Broadway. It pulls, pushes, peels and makes transparent its walls and floors to disrupt circulatory and visual axes in order to call attention to itself. This dance theatre employs the same strategies to engage itself with the site. It peels up a corner of the street to both call attention and create a public space above; it pushes itself into the High Line and pulls the public down to the entrance of the theatre; and as it moves into the interior, the walls peel to redirect paths for the performers and viewers. In doing so, compelling spaces are generated as one moves underneath the High Line, through the Lobby and finally into the theatre itself.