How a historic 1918 repair facility for locomotives became a beautiful new sculpture museum in Queens, New York City

In Long Island City, New York, the building that’s now housing the SculptureCenter was originally constructed as a repair facility for locomotives in 1918.

It had thus served most of its life as an industrial space. Maya Lin—famed architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC—had performed a light renovation to repurpose the space for the SculptureCenter into the space.

Recently, architect Andrew Berman was hired to renovate it further, this time including a fire stair to provide egress from the cellar level of the SculptureCenter.

They began discussions with Mary Ceruti, the museum director, who informed them that more than a fire stair was missing from their art venue.

A proper entry, reception, a bookshop, elevator, additional gallery space, as well as the need of improved circulation to view the work made the list.

The designers at the local Manhattan-based firm of Andrew Berman Architect decided to see how, on a very limited budget, they might be able to provide for this larger reimagining of the gallery experience and building.

They designed a new two-story building the adjacent vacant lot.

The new building stitches into the original industrial building at the ground floor and cellar levels.

This strategic work was enough to transform the entire gallery experience and operations of the building.

Two new courtyards were created to extend the SculptureCenter’s use of the site.

Natural light and robust primary materials that speak to the existing building and industrial neighborhood were used to extend the distinct atmosphere of the SculptureCenter through the expansion.

All photos by Michael Moran.

See Andrew Berman Architect website.

See SculptureCenter website.

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