“The Cubes”

The first permanent home for Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City
By Architecture Firm LOT-EK


“The Cubes” at Socrates Sculpture Park is a new 2,640 square-foot, two-story building designed by the innovative architecture studio LOT-EK. Multi-functional by design, this new permanent space provides 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.

The new building has 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. Completion was in April 2024, this new home secures the Park’s future, so generations to come can enjoy the Park and take advantage of our programs.

Image Credit: Kamila Harris Photography. Renderings of The Cubes at Socrates Sculpture Park, courtesy LOT-EK

About the Building

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 Vernon Boulevard, “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.


April 24, 2024
AIA New York “In the News: April 24, 2024

October 17, 2022
Spectrum NY 1 “Socrates Sculpture Park to get Indoor Space”

September 22, 2022 “Officials break ground on administrative building at Socrates Sculpture Park

September 22, 2022
Queens Scene “The Cubes at Socrates

September 20, 2022
GothamToGo “NYC Parks & Socrates Sculpture Park to Break Ground on $5.7 Million New Facility ~ ‘The Cubes

August 30, 2022
Surface Magazine “Ground breaks on LOT-EK’s shipping container structure for Socrates Sculpture Park.

August 29, 2022
Designboom “socrates sculpture park’s shipping container home ‘the cubes’ begins construction

October 14, 2012
Architect “The Cubes

September 16, 2016
The Architect’s Newspaper “LOT-EK and Socrates Sculpture Park reveal renderings of “The Cubes

September 16, 2016
Curbed “Socrates Sculpture Park’s first permanent home will be made from shipping containers

September 16, 2016
The Art Newspaper “Socrates Sculpture Park releases design for first permanent building

October 17, 2022





Leadership support for “The Cubes” is made possible by Stuart Match Suna, as well as public funds from the Queens Borough President’s Office in partnership with Donovan Richards and the New York City Council in partnership with Julie Won. Additional support is provided by Catherine Nolan & the New York State Assembly. Thank you to The Whitney Museum of American Art.

Capacity support for this project is also made possible by the generous donors to the Future Fund campaign:

Mark di Suvero
Maxine & Stuart Frankel
Agnes Gund
Richard & Ronay Menschel
Molly Blank Fund
Nancy Nasher & David Haemisegger
Richard Serra
Joel Shapiro
Robert & Christine Stiller
Ursula von Rydingsvard