Socrates Sculpture Park is excited to break ground for “The Cubes,” a new 2,640 square-foot, two-story building that will become a permanent home for Socrates Sculpture Park, designed by the innovative architecture studio LOT-EK. Multi-functional by design, the space will provide new facilities for the park’s administrative offices, arts education and community work, creating opportunities for year-round public programming. Constructed from up cycled shipping containers, the building’s origin, materials, and design invokes Socrates Sculpture Park’s founding principles of creative reclamation, adaptable re-use, and honoring the neighborhood’s industrial roots.
NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue will join Socrates Sculpture Park Executive Director Tamsin Dillon, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, Socrates Sculpture Park Board Member Stuart Match Suna, City Council Member Julie Won, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, Community Board 1 Chair Marie Torniali, and members of the community to officially break ground on “The Cubes.”
“The new administrative facilities coming to Socrates Sculpture Park, “The Cubes,” are the culmination of almost 30 years of work and advocacy from the community, and I’m so proud that they’re becoming a reality,” said Commissioner Donoghue. “Thanks to Socrates Sculpture Park and all of those that have contributed to this project, our next generation of artists will have a brand new space to explore, learn, and grow in the heart of Astoria.”
Designed by the innovative architecture studio LOT-EK, “The Cubes” will house a brand new park facility, constructed from up-cycled shipping containers honoring the neighborhood’s industrial roots. The new building will have two main functions: to serve as administrative offices for the Socrates Sculpture Park, and to provide an indoor space for curatorial, educational, and community programming during the fall and winter months of the school year.
The new building will have two main functions:
1) to serve as administrative offices for the organization allowing us to physically be in the park we operate and program
2) to provide an indoor space for our curatorial, education, and community programming during the fall and winter months of the school year.
Aesthetically and philosophically, Cubes is a highly innovative building. The building design embodies a 21st century imperative of reuse, adaptability and sustainability. It was selected in 2016 as one of ten public capital projects to receive The Public Design Commission Design Award.
“I am thrilled that the construction of The Cubes is under way and that Socrates will very soon have its home in the Park for its staff and its visitors,” said Tamsin Dillon, Executive Director Socrates Sculpture Park. “I can’t wait to see this wonderful building, designed by LOT-EK, come to fruition and to be able to celebrate with our partners and funders and with our community. We are especially grateful to our wonderful supporter and Trustee, Stuart Match Suna, for his generous gift as part of the funding for the building. This project is a game-changer for this unique and special place; part of our plans for a sustainable and a resilient future.”
LOT-EK’s innovative design underscores the Park’s history of reclamation and revitalization, along with its mission of presenting contemporary public art, fostering environmental stewardship, and building community. The structure that has become The Cubes began its existence as a commission by The Whitney Museum of American Art. Then a 720 square foot structure, it comprised six shipping containers and housed the museum’s education programs in an annex sensitively installed into the museum’s famous “moat” at its former Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue. When the Whitney was planning its new home on Gansevoort Street, the Museum offered the structure as a donation to Socrates Sculpture Park. This extraordinary opportunity led to our expansion plan: to adapt the containers and fulfill the Park’s strategic and programmatic goals—including the creation of its first indoor space. Socrates Sculpture Park already utilizes shipping containers in an adapted reuse vision throughout our park, as equipment and material storage units for open air artist studios and education areas.
LOT-EK’s architectural concept has expanded and evolved the original design for the Whitney commission by adding twelve additional shipping containers for a total of eighteen, now stacked on two levels to form a singular structure. Continuous diagonal bands of glass along the sides and roof of the structure provide natural light and transparency, offering building visitors a view of the landscape and skyline outside, and offering park visitors a view of activities inside. These linear chevron windows curate those views while reserving ample wall space within the building for indoor exhibitions. Their striking V-shapes mirror the structure of the steel artist shed located nearby.
Located at the main entrance of Socrates Sculpture Park at 32-01 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City, “The Cubes” will house the park’s administration and educational programs, and will be the first permanent structure in the Park’s thirty-year history. The new facility will include 2,640 square feet of interior space with a 960-square foot flexible multi-purpose area for indoor education programming, housing classes of up to 70 children and teens. It will also accomodate indoor presentation of videos, drawings, photographs and process source materials by artists on view in the park; plus 1,200 square feet of permanent office and administration space that will secure the park’s long-term sustainability. Also included will be a 480 square-foot shaded deck area for outdoor classes and programming. The roof will be outfitted with solar panels to provide renewable energy and to perform as a teaching tool for sustainable practices.
With completion due in early 2024, this new home secures the Park’s future, so generations to come can enjoy the Park and take advantage of our programs.
The $5,735,000 million project was made possible thanks to the Office of the Queens Borough President, City Council, and a generous private donation from Stuart Match Suna.