Five key projects by architect and Dezeen Awards judge David Rockwell

New York architect David Rockwell has joined Dezeen Awards 2023 as a judge. Here, he selects five projects that best reflect his studio’s work.

Architect and designer Rockwell is the founder of US practice Rockwell Group. He aims for his work to “help facilitate storytelling, community-building and memory-making”.

“The core value I try to bring to all my work is empathy,” Rockwell told Dezeen.”I approach each decision from the perspective of those who will inhabit the spaces.”

Projects spanning “theatre, hospitality and the public realm”

“Working in the theatre has been an incredible training ground for strengthening my own capacity for empathy,” said Rockwell.

“Our work falls into three main categories: theatre, hospitality and the public realm,” he continued. “Rockwell Group has been fortunate to work across a diverse range of project types, from restaurants, hotels, schools and offices to museum installations, Broadway sets and theatres.”

The New York-based office is currently working alongside architectural firms Ennead Architects and SmithGroup to convert a museum at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC into an academic building for Johns Hopkins University,.

Rockwell Group is also designing several restaurants in New York City, including collaborations with Ethiopian-born Swedish-American chef Marcus Samuelsson and French restauranteur Daniel Boulud, as well as an outpost for the international Taiwanese restaurant group Din Tai Fung.

Rockwell among Dezeen Awards 2023 judges

Dezeen Awards 2023 launched last month in partnership with Bentley Motors. On Tuesday we announced five more Dezeen Awards judges, including interior designers Kelly Behun and Martin Brudnizki and architects Lara Lesmes, Jayden Ali and Rooshad Shroff.

Submit your entry before the standard entry deadline on Thursday 1 June. Click here for more entry information.

Read on to find Rockwell’s views on the five projects that best represent the work of his studio.

Nobu Hotel Barcelona by Rockwell Group
Nobu Hotel in Barcelona, Spain


“Our work with Chef Nobu Matsuhisa started 29 years ago when we designed his now iconic restaurant in Tribeca.

“Chef Nobu’s innovative cooking, as well as his origins in the Japanese countryside, inspired an irresistible narrative we got to weave into our design.

“All these years later, we are still reinventing Nobu – as both a restaurant and hotel brand – in cities worldwide. It is, without question, one of the most significant collaborations of my career. “

Mott St ChinaTown DineOutNYC by Rockwell Group

DineOut NYC, New York City, USA

“We conceived our pro-bono project DineOut NYC at the height of the pandemic. Covid-19 had completely devastated our restaurant industry.

“In addition to providing over 300 thousand jobs for New Yorkers, I have always had a strong personal attachment to this sector.

“Designed in collaboration with the NYC Hospitality Alliance, DineOut is an adaptable, modular outdoor dining system. The project helped end our era of isolation by bringing people together again and getting restaurants back on their feet.

“Design is most meaningful to me when it fosters community and I feel like we made a real impact doing just that with DineOut NYC.”

Read more about DineOut NYC ›

Hayes Theatre by Rockwell Group
Photo by Paul Warchol

Hayes Theater and Take Me Out, New York City, USA

“In 2018 we renovated the 100-year-old Hayes Theater, Broadway’s most intimate venue with only 600 seats.

“In addition to instilling the historic space with a modern, approachable design vocabulary, we also needed to accommodate the staggering technical demands of modern productions.

“Last year we had the chance to put our work to the test when we designed the sets for the revival of Take Me Out at the Hayes. Had the theatre been unable to meet our technical needs, I’d have had no one to blame but myself. Thankfully, I was a very satisfied customer.”

Neuehouse NYC by Rockwell Group

NeueHouse Madison Square, New York City, USA

“When it opened 10 years ago, NeueHouse Madison Square was a groundbreaking workspace collective that helped usher in a new typology in which art, life, culture, food, and work converge seamlessly.

“This kind of convergence has taken on profound new meaning in our late-stage pandemic era, in which people are craving bespoke, communal experiences.”

Read more about NeueHouse Madison Square ›

TED Vancouver by Rockwell Group

TED Theater

“Our portable TED Theater [for nonprofit foundation TED Talks] is approaching its 10th anniversary this year and it remains a great experiment in the power of ephemeral, shared experiences.

“The attention to detail recalls permanent works of architecture but its flexibility allows it to adapt and evolve as TED does.”

All images courtesy of Rockwell Group unless stated otherwise.

Dezeen Awards 2023

Dezeen Awards celebrates the world’s best architecture, interiors and design. Now in its sixth year, it has become the ultimate accolade for architects and designers across the globe. The annual awards are in partnership with Bentley Motors, as part of a wider collaboration that will see the brand work with Dezeen to support and inspire the next generation of design talent.

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