Client: Socrates Sculpture Park
Type: Art & Education
Location: Queens, New York
Size: 2640 SF
Design: 2016
Structure: Silman
Mechanical: JFK&M
Civil: Langan
AWARD: NYC Public Design Commission - 2017 Award for Excellence in Design

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.

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Socrates Sculpture Park︎