An Inside Look at Two Outdoor Event Venues

The redevelopment of New York’s Hudson Yards area got a major boost with Time Warner’s recent announcement of plans to relocate its headquarters there. Another company, Skylight Group, already ‘got in on the ground floor’, since it manages two notable outdoor event venues on the far west side: Skylight West (since 2008; photo below) and the High Line (In partnership with Friends of the High Line since 2012, photo at left). (both photos courtesy of Skylight Group) The firm also operates four indoor event venues.

“Event spaces become the visual backdrop for brands in terms of their look and feel”, noted Jennifer Blumin, Skylight Group’s president, during a recent in-person interview with PRNewser. “Now events are getting a larger piece of the marketing pie, due to social media, celebrities and their followers. Tech companies in particular host lots of events, and they like having raw space to customize. In turn, event organizers now are also more invested in technology due to state-of-the-art production needs and options such as livestreaming,” she added.

At Skylight West, located at Tenth Avenue and 36th street, only part of the event space is at street level. The rest of the venue, a converted parking garage, is on the penthouse studio and rooftop floors. As most New Yorkers and visitors know, the High Line park is situated on a former elevated freight railroad line between 10th and 11th Avenues. The section from Gansevoort Street to west 30th street is open to the public, while the last stretch from west 30th to 34th streets is still a work in progress.

Skylight West opened five years ago for Fashion Week, and has hosted high profile events ever since. The ground floor is used for photo/film shoots, while the studio and rooftop space serves as party central. The venue has expansive views of the Hudson River and its own reflecting pool, which is often lit and filled with colorful decorations, not partygoers. Its large billboard has been “reclaimed as a projection screen and is used for branding purposes”, Blumin noted. The plants are similar to those found on the High Line, and are all native Hudson River grasses.

The High Line hosts up to two events per month at its three event spaces: Chelsea Market Passage, 14th Street Passage and the Diller-von Furstenberg Sundeck. It’s not that easy to score a spot on the sought-after event calendar, but as Blumin explained, “We work hard to be democratic and not obstruct the public’s enjoyment of the space. It has to be the right pairing and we vet the potential events to align the objectives”. For starters, she said it helps if the proposed events are environmentally friendly or promote sustainability.

So what celebrity soirees have these chic spaces hosted? Skylight West is where Mary J. Blige partied for her 40th birthday a few years ago, during a blizzard no less. Fashion shows have included Project Runway and Edun (U2’s Bono and his wife’s brand), and Eric Ripert feted the premiere of his PBS cooking show, Avec Eric. The High Line hosted a USA Network media party for the series Suits and a Tommy Hilfiger fashion show. The park has also served as backdrop for Nike and Swatch corporate events.

(both photos courtesy of Skylight Group)

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