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Socrates Sculpture Park rendering
Photograph: Courtesy of LOT-EK

These giant shipping containers were just installed inside a park in Astoria

The structures will house administrative offices at Socrates Sculpture Park.

Anna Rahmanan
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Anna Rahmanan
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There is a lot to say about Socrates Sculpture Park, the outdoor museum and public park in Astoria that was established on an abandoned landfill back in 1986 by a group of artists and community members.

The destination's history is an important one, for starters. Then-New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani granted the green area permanent city park status in 1998, after a developer tried to construct luxury apartments and a marina on site. Since then, the park has been home to a variety of exhibits and installations that speak to the character of the city as a whole and add to the neighborhood's cultural offerings.

Now, a new phase within the life of the park has kicked off with the installation of The Cubes, a two-story building that will become the first permanent structure within the park since its inception. Created using recycled shipping containers as a way to honor the neighborhood's "industrial roots," according to an official press release, the 1,640-square-foot facility will be the home of administrative offices and a 960-square-foot flexible multi-use indoor space that will fit up to 70 people at once and will host community and educational programming. Plans also include an additional shaded deck area of about 480 square feet where outdoor classes will be held.

Construction on the $5,735,000 project designed by architecture studio LOT-EK has already begun and is expected to finish in early 2024.

"Socrates Sculpture Park is a treasured institution in our neighborhood," said Marie Torniali, chair of community board 1 in Queens, in an official statement about the developments."The Cubes are characteristic of Socrates as innovator, community collaborator and arts educator—as evidenced by the use of shipping containers honoring this area's industrial roots. While the Cubes could no doubt stand alone as a wonderful architectural achievement, it will also provide indoor space for programming during winter months, a great amenity for the community and beyond."

It's always a good day when we hear about park-related achievements across this concrete jungle of ours.

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