Socrates Sculpture Park and NYC Parks have plans to build The Cubes, a new 2,640 square-foot, two-story building that will become a permanent home for the Park, designed by the innovative architecture firm LOT-EK. The building’s origin, materials, and design invokes Socrates Sculpture Park’s founding principles, which stresses reclamation, adaptable re-use, and the neighborhood’s industrial roots.
Located at the main entrance at Vernon Boulevard, the new building will anchor the Park’s administration on-site, create new opportunities for year-round programming, and significantly improve the level and quality of visitor services within the Park. The completed building will include:
• 960 square feet of flexible multi-purpose interior space that will house indoor education programming for classes of up to seventy children and teens and also a space for the indoor presentation of videos, drawings, photographs and process source materials by artists exhibiting at the Park
• 1,200 square feet of permanent office and administration space that will secure the Park’s long-term sustainability
• 480 square-foot shaded deck area for outdoor classes and programming.
LOT-EK’s award-winning* design and innovative material choices of The Cubes underscore the Park’s history of reclamation and revitalization and its mission of presenting contemporary public art, fostering environmental stewardship, and community building.
The Cubes was originally commissioned by The Whitney Museum of American Art as a 720 square foot structure comprised of six shipping containers that housed the museum’s education programs. When the Whitney was planning to vacate the Breuer building on Madison Avenue for its new home on Gansevoort Street, the Museum offered the structure as a donation to Socrates Sculpture Park.
This extraordinary opportunity led to an 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 has historically and currently utilizes shipping containers for adapted reuse throughout the 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 of the Whitney commission by adding twelve additional shipping containers for a total of eighteen, stacked on two levels to form a singular structure. Diagonal, continuous 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 Park visitors a view of activities inside. These chevron windows offer floor-to-ceiling views of the park while reserving ample wall space within the building for indoor exhibitions; moreover, the 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 more than thirty-year history.
*On May 11, 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Public Design Commission President Signe Nielsen, and Executive Director of the Commission, Justin Moore, announced The Cubes among the winners of the 35th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design. Projects were honored for remarkable designs that create sustainable spaces, enhance neighborhoods and preserve New York City history.
North-looking view of proposed design for The Cubes, as seen from Vernon Boulevard at the main entrance to Socrates Sculpture Park, courtesy LOT-EK
Rendering of interior of The Cubes at Socrates Sculpture Park, courtesy LOT-EK
Rendering of a future arts education class taking place at The Cubes, courtesy LOT-EK