David Rockwell Drew on Personal TedTalk Experience to Design the Next Chapter Theater for TED2014

TED celebrated its 30th anniversary by moving the annual TED Conference from Long Beach to a temporary theater installed within the Vancouver Convention Center.  Designed by David Rockwell of The Rockwell Group, The Next Chapter Theater is a portable 1,200-seat theater that was designed to enhance the speaker and audience experience, and will be reinstalled in the years ahead.

“I have spoken [at TED] and have had that experience of: your talk is influenced by how you feel in the room. The environment affects how the talk evolves,” says Rockwell.

David Rockwell’s talk at TED2002 on the memorial at Ground Zero influenced his design of The Next Chapter Theater.

The bowl of the theater is steeply raked to ensure that in a room of 1,200, the farthest distance from the speaker is a mere 80 feet, helping the speaker better see and feel the audience’s reactions and allowing audience members to immerse themselves more deeply in the talks.  By comparison, Hollywood’s Ford Amphitheater, which is lauded for its intimacy, has a 96-foot distance from the farthest seat to the stage.

“TED is a combination of theater and festival,” says Rockwell, “…we’re creating from scratch a theater designed around a talk. [It’s] like going back to the roots of theater. No one’s done a theater solely based on a talk.”

The intimate TED2014 theater was built in just under a week and was constructed from 600 modular boxes and flooring and furniture donations from Shaw Hospitality Group and Steelcase.  The carpet is from Shaw Hospitality Group’s Layered Luxe collection, which was also designed in collaboration from Rockwell.

Read more about the construction of the TED2014 Next Chapter Theater here.

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