David Rockwell (born 1956) is an American architect and designer.
He is the founder and President of Rockwell Group, a 250-person award-winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice based in New York City with satellite offices in Madrid and Shanghai.
David 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.
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.
David founded Rockwell Group in 1984. Over the past 30 years, Rockwell Group has carved out a unique role encompassing multiple ideas, design styles, clients and project types. Inspired by theater, technology, and high-end craft, the firm creates a unique narrative for each project, ranging from restaurants, hotels, airport terminals, and hospitals, to festivals, museum exhibitions, and Broadway sets. A strong commitment to explore and experiment resulted in the formation of the LAB at Rockwell Group, a design innovation studio that blends technology, architecture, strategy, and storytelling.
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, Citymeals-on-Wheels, and New York Restoration Project.
David also conceived and developed Imagination Playground pro-bono, a play space designed to encourage children to work together to create their own worlds of play. After five years of research on children and play, the first site-specific location opened in collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation at Burling Slip in Manhattan in 2010.
Following the success of the first location, Rockwell Group developed portable, scalable models that can transform smaller, unused areas into dynamic play spaces. These playgrounds have since enlivened public parks, schools, facilities, and children's museums across the globe. In addition, through the U.N.I.C.E.F. P.L.A.Y. Project, in partnership with Disney, the blocks have been distributed to more than 13,000 children in Bangladesh and Haiti.
His numerous honors include the 2016 Tony Award for Best Scenic Design for the musical She Loves Me and six Tony Award nominations for Best Scenic Design, the AIA New York Chapter President's Award; the 2008 National Design Award by the Smithsonian’s 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; and the 2016 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical for She Loves Me and five Drama Desk Award nominations for Outstanding Scenic Design of a Musical. Rockwell Group was named by Fast Company in 2008, 2014 and 2015 as one of the most innovative design practices in their annual World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies issue.
David is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.