Long before turning his attention to architecture, David Rockwell, FAIA, harbored a fascination with immersive environments. Growing up in the United States and Guadalajara, Mexico, David was a child of the theater, and was often cast in community repertory productions by his mother, a vaudeville dancer and choreographer. He has brought his passion for theater and artistic eye for the color and spectacle of Mexico to his practice.
Through this unique lens, David founded Rockwell Group, a 250-person, cross-disciplinary architecture and design firm, based in New York with a satellite office in Madrid, that emphasizes invention and thought leadership. Led by David and partners Shawn Sullivan and Greg Keffer, the firm creates extraordinary experiences and built environments across the globe. Merging architecture, theater, craftsmanship, and technology to create unique narratives for each project, the firm’s work includes hospitality, luxury residential, airport terminals, cultural institutions, set design, products, exhibitions, and festivals.
Current and recently completed projects include the renovation of the landmark Hayes Theater for Second Stage (New York); Nobu Hotel Barcelona; Gran Hotel Ingles (Madrid); the new headquarters for Warner Music Group (Los Angeles); The Anthem, an independently-operated concert hall at The Wharf in Washington, DC; The Diner for Surface magazine (Milan); scenic design for Broadway productions of The Nap, The Hard Problem, Tootsie, and Kiss Me Kate; and 15 Hudson Yards and The Shed (Diller Scofidio + Renfro in collaboration with Rockwell Group).
Notable work includes Union Square Cafe and Daily Provisions (New York); TED Theater (Vancouver); Nobu Downtown and Nobu restaurants worldwide (New York, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Doha, Melbourne and Dubai); Nobu hotels worldwide (Las Vegas, Miami, Manila and Riyadh); NeueHouse (New York and Los Angeles); New York EDITION hotel; Hotel EMC2 (Chicago); W Hotels (New York, Paris, Madrid, Singapore, Suzhou, and Vieques); Dream Hollywood (Los Angeles); the Elinor Bunin-Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center; the Imagination Playground initiative (Burling Slip, Betsy Head Park, Imagination Playground products); TAO Downtown (New York), TAO Los Angeles, and TAO Chicago; set design for the 2009 and 2010 Academy Awards; projects for Google worldwide; JetBlue’s T5 Marketplace at JFK International Airport; the Walt Disney Family Museum (San Francisco); exhibition design for the Center for Civil and Human Rights (Atlanta); set designs for more than 60 productions, both on and off-Broadway, including Lobby Hero, She Loves Me, Falsettos, On The Twentieth Century, Kinky Boots, Lucky Guy, Hairspray, The Normal Heart, and the Public Theater’s 2017 season of Shakespeare in the Park; “Hall of Fragments,” the entrance installation to the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale; product collections for Stellar Works, Knoll, Bisazza, Rich Brilliant Willing, Jim Thompson, Maya Romanoff, and The Rug Company.
The firm has published three books: What If…? The Architecture and Design of David Rockwell, Spectacle by David Rockwell with Bruce Mau, and Pleasure: The Architecture and Design of Rockwell Group.
In 2016 David Rockwell won the Best Scenic Design Tony Award for She Loves Me. Other honors and recognition include the AIANY President’s Award; National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum for outstanding achievement in Interior Design; the Pratt Legends Award; the Presidential Design Award for his renovation of the Grand Central Terminal; induction into the James Beard Foundation Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and Interior Design magazine’s Hall of Fame; three James Beard Foundation Award nominations; inclusion in Architectural Digest’s AD 100; six Tony Award nominations for Best Scenic Design; five Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical; and an Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Set Design. David Rockwell is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.
Known for their commitment to non-profit and community organizations, David Rockwell serves as the Chair Emeritus of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and as a board member of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, Citymeals-on-Wheels, and New York Restoration Project. In 2007, Rockwell Group created Imagination Playground, a pro-bono global initiative to provide children with opportunities to engage in unstructured, child-directed free play. Since its inception, Imagination Playground has designed and built two fixed-site parks in New York in collaboration with the NYC Parks Department; designed portable playground kits; deployed more than 7,000 Imagination Playground kits in 62 countries; and worked with UNICEF’s P.L.A.Y. initiative to provide 30 playground kits to schools, orphanages, and child-friendly spaces in Haiti and Bangladesh.