Rockwell Goes to the Oscars

David Rockwell talks about his design for the Green Room at the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

David Rockwell has always had, if not one foot, then at least a fair amount of toes in the world of show business. The famously theatrical architect—whose mother was a vaudeville performer and choreographer—has designed stage sets for a number of Broadway shows (receiving two Tony nominations in the process), collaborated with Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park-fame on the film Team America, and is currently developing, as a producer, a musical based on the life of Harry Houdini. The Rockwell Group also designed the Kodak Theater in Hollywood in 2002, the site of the Academy Awards. Seven years later he returned to that venue as production designer for both the 2009 and 2010 Oscar broadcasts, a program seen by hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide.

For this year’s Oscar’s, Architectural Digest reached out to Rockwell and his team for the ultimate insider’s assignment: creation of a new Green Room for award presenters awaiting their big moments in the spotlight. “This project was based on all of the work we’ve done in and around hospitality,” Rockwell says. “This is a place for people who are part of the film community to relax, have a moment to themselves, connect with other people and have a celebration that’s not based on who won and who lost, and then get ready to go one of the biggest stages in the world, and be in this very vulnerable place.”

Broadcast waiting rooms (which are never green but occasionally have green things to eat in them) are usually some combination of either clubby or claustrophobic. Rockwell and his team went in a different direction, creating a contemporary space, featuring bleached wood ceiling beams, mid-century modern furniture, and area rugs for accent, texture and warmth. “The room is choreographed in a way so that two or three people can gather around every quadrant of that room, on a sofa, on a chair or two, on two stools at the bar.” For those needing a bit of liquid fortification before stepping on stage in front of a television audience of millions, Rockwell designed a custom drinks cart. “It was really interesting for me to be creating this kind of unique retreat,” Rockwell says, “where people will gather before they jump on the big stage.”

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