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Officials Break Ground on $5.7 Million Office and Educational Facility at Socrates Sculpture Park

The city has broken ground on a new administrative and programming facility at Socrates Sculpture Park — located at the intersection of Vernon Boulevard and Broadway — and officials were on hand Wednesday to celebrate the occasion. (Rendering via LOT-EK)

Sept. 23, 2022 By Michael Dorgan

Socrates Sculpture Park is one step closer to having its first permanent on-site building.

The city has broken ground on a new administrative and programming facility at the park — located at the intersection of Vernon Boulevard and Broadway — and officials were on hand Wednesday to celebrate the occasion.

The two-story facility, called The Cubes, will cost $5.735 million to construct and is being made out of shipping containers to acknowledge the neighborhood’s industrial roots.

The 2,640-square-foot building will serve as administrative offices for Socrates Sculpture Park. It will also provide a space for art curation as well as educational and community programming.

The Cubes is expected to be completed in early 2024.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Parks Dept. Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Socrates Sculpture Park Executive Director Tamsin Dillon and Councilmember Julie Won were among those who attended the official groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday. Stuart Match Suna, co-owner and founder of Silvercup Studios, and Community Board 1 Chair Marie Torniali were also present.

Officials at the groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday (Photo: Daniel Avila)

Dillion, who leads the non-profit arm of Socrates Sculpture Park that curates the space, said the new facility will mark a major milestone for the park.

“This project is a game-changer for this unique and special place; part of our plans for a sustainable and a resilient future,” Dillon said.

The new building will be the park’s first permanent structure since it was established in 1986. The five-acre site was transformed in the 1980s from an abandoned landfill and illegal dumpsite to an open studio and exhibition space for artists. Since then, more than 1,000 artists have created and exhibited works at the park.

Socrates Sculpture Park personnel previously said they were outgrowing their rented offices across the street and desired something more permanent.

The city and Socrates Sculpture Park have partnered with LOT-EK, a Manhattan-based innovative architecture studio, to design the building.

The design features diagonal bands of glass along the containers that allow for natural light to come in, and for park-goers to see through the building’s ground-floor interior gallery space. Solar-paneled roofs will also be incorporated into the building.

Donoghue said the project is the culmination of decades of work and advocacy by the community.

“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.”

The project is being funded with $3.124 million from New York City Council and $1.611 million from the Queens Borough President’s Office.

Suna, who co-founded Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, donated a further $1 million. Suna is also a Socrates Sculpture Park board member.

Rendering of the interior of The Cubes at Socrates Sculpture Park (Rendering via LOT-EK)

The 2,640-square-foot building will serve as administrative offices for the Socrates Sculpture Park. It will also provide a space for art curation as well as educational and community programming. (Rendering via LOT-EK)

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Starving Artist

How does a bunch of shipping containers built on land they already possess cost almost $6 million of mostly taxpayer money? You can erect a building with dozens of apartments for that price. Even the Rowan isn’t $2,200 per square feet. Wasteful.

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