Staffed not just by architects and designers but also by coders, engineers, and strategists, the Rockwell Group is an innovative, tech-savvy firm that creates multi-sensory environments using state-of-the-art lighting systems and arresting visual effects. Its diverse portfolio includes Nobu hotels and restaurants, the auditorium for the 2014 TED Conference, and the occasional high-end residence. The Manhattan-based practice, with offices in Madrid and Shanghai, was founded 30 years ago by David Rockwell, who grew up immersed in the dramatic arts, a passion reflected in his Tony-nominated set designs. “Theater has been a huge influence,” Rockwell says. “I like to bring a scenic designer’s sensibility to my architectural work.”
With a desire to create immersive environments, Rockwell Group takes a cross-disciplinary approach to its inventive array of projects.
David Rockwell has long harbored a fascination with immersive environments. He was born in Chicago and grew up in the theater—his mother, a vaudeville dancer and choreographer, often cast him in community repertory productions. But when he was 12, David’s family had a dramatic scene change, moving from Deal, New Jersey to Guadalajara, Mexico. There he discovered a whole new world of vibrant marketplaces, street life, and public spaces.
David founded Rockwell Group in 1984.
After training in architecture at Syracuse University and the Architectural Association in London, David brought his passion for theater and artistic eye for the color and spectacle of Mexico to his profession. Today, his work ranges from restaurants, hotels, airport terminals, and hospitals, to festivals, museum exhibitions, and Broadway sets.
David’s honors include the 2008 National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum for outstanding achievement in Interior Design; the 2009 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; inclusion in Architectural Digest’s AD 100; three Tony Award nominations for Best Scenic Design; and four Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical. David is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Rockwell Group was twice named by Fast Company as one of the most innovative design practices in their annual World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies issue.
Known for his commitment to charitable organizations, David currently serves as Chair Emeritus of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and as a board member of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Citymeals-on-Wheels.