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Hudson Yards Holds Gala Launch Party for Retail Space and Grand Opening Celebration at the Vessel

PLSN Staff • News • June 6, 2019

NYC – Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate development in the US by square footage, has opened on Manhattan’s west side.  WorldStage provided AV and lighting support for the gala party at the Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards and for the following day’s Grand Opening Celebration in front of the monumental Vessel artwork.

More details from Worldstage (

Overland Entertainment challenged WorldStage to provide cable-free audio and lighting across five floors of the Shops and Restaurants for the party, which was attended by 14,000 influencers and tastemakers.  The location boasts 750,000 square feet of retail space anchored by New York’s first Neiman Marcus department store.

Lighting the Retail Experience

Like the WorldStage audio team, the WorldStage lighting department was mindful of maintaining the aesthetic of the retail experience when illuminating the space, the performers, and the food stations and bars scattered across the seven-story structure. “Our goal was to go wireless, but where we couldn’t do that we had to be as clean as possible with no cable swags over the entry ways.  All the cable runs were up high or masked along the walls,” explains Terry Jackson, Vice President and Director of Lighting at WorldStage.

Initially, it was estimated that 150-200 wireless fixtures would be required to light the interior, but the final design for the gala evening called for nearly 500 wireless LED PARs and LED tubes, he reports.  All of the fixtures were sourced from WorldStage’s inventory.

“The client didn’t want anything that looked like typical bright mall lighting.  They wanted theatrical lighting that gave the space a festive, party atmosphere,” says Jackson.  “Lighting Designer Christien Methot of design one lighting design created a continuum of light and color tying together the Grand Hall, the performance areas, and the bars and food stations for a very unique guest experience.”

WorldStage positioned lights on stands and on the floor and used about 70 pieces of “super clean and thin” 3-meter tall 4-inch truss around the perimeters of the bars and performance areas for overhead lighting, Jackson notes.  Astera AX1 LED PixelTubes and Astera AX5, AX7 and AX10 LED PARs were the primary wireless fixtures for the event.

Ali Wright, Going Through, The Bush Theatre

Wired moving lights served as accents for performance areas and also lit the Grand Hall’s main floor, which turned into a dance floor in the evening.  Fixtures included Claypaky Mythos hybrid spot and beam lights, Chauvet MK2 Washes and MK2 Spots plus lightweight SGM G1 Spots.

A control rig with two grandMA2 consoles and NPUs at its heart was required to handle all the LED channels in the rig.

The Grand Opening Celebration at the Vessel

The Grand Opening Celebration for Hudson Yards took place on a stage erected at the foot of the Vessel, Thomas Heatherwick’s monumental interactive artwork of bronzed steel. The 15-story Vessel is comprised of 154 interconnecting flights of stairs, which offer hearty individuals a nearly one-mile vertical climb and the reward of a spectacular view.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper emcee’d the ribbon-cutting event that featured notables from politics, sports, business and the arts – including Sesame Street’s Big Bird.

Ali Wright, Going Through, The Bush Theatre

Since no one had ever done an event at this location, wind blowing off the Hudson River and around large buildings proved to be a major consideration.  “Wind gusts there can be upward of 40 mph on any given day,” says Susanna Harris-Rea, WorldStage Project Manager.  “So we worked closely with Overland and BNW Rigging on the physical truss and ballast rig, which had to be robust, functional and aesthetically pleasing. We mandated that the rigs be rated for +50 mph wind.”

Two ROE CB5 LED videowalls, with fortified rigging and truss supporting their outer edges, flanked the stage in landscape mode to provide graphic backdrops for the speakers and performers.  “Welcome to Hudson Yards” signage appeared on these screens during the gala party the previous night.

“The CB5 walls are an outdoor product and worked well with the audience 35 feet away from the stage,” Boyd says.  “They were the perfect choice for this venue.”

Lighting for the celebration, which was recorded for a TV special, “needed to be functional as well as physically complementary to the Hudson Yards plaza and environment,” notes Terry Jackson.  WorldStage used Claypaky Scenius fixtures as front wash lights to punch through the natural daylight and illuminate speakers and a performance by singer Andra Day who was accompanied by a choir.

Claypaky A.leda B-EYE K20s were positioned at ground level on the perimeter of the stage as visual elements that looked great on camera.  “We also used the tops of the screen structures to mount B-EYEs on each side of the stage as backlights that did not conflict with nor block the Vessel’s physical structure,” Jackson explains.

To meet the event’s audio needs WorldStage furnished an extensive array of speakers, stage monitors and consoles from d&b, Shure, Clearcom, Riedel, DiGiCo and Yamaha.

“You do not often get the opportunity to work on a New York City event of this size and scope,” observes Jackson.  “WorldStage loved being part of the launch of this already iconic and fantastic location.”

For the retail space, Greg Hodgkins, Gus Garces and Susanna Harris-Rea were the Project Managers, Tomasz Gajewski was the Key Sound Engineer and Andrew Guberman and David Teufel were the RF Engineers.   For the outdoor press conference and vessel launch, Tommy Boyd and Susanna Harris-Rea were the Project Managers, Drew Scott was the Lead Electrician, Jamie Davis the Lead LED and Hubert Kiszniewski the Sound Engineer.



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