Eyebeam Decamps from Chelsea to Brooklyn


Nonprofit art and technology center Eyebeam, currently located in a 13,000-square-foot facility in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, will move to the BAM cultural district in downtown Brooklyn, near the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The new site is to include condos and an upscale restaurant. The move will mark a return to the organization’s roots; it was in Brooklyn from its founding in 1997 until 2001, when it moved to its current home on West 21st Street.

Eyebeam has not announced an asking price for the building, which is owned by the Atlantic Foundation. New York real-estate broker Susan B. Anthony estimates that it could be worth as much as $30 to $40 million, assuming any new construction remained at the same single-story height.

Eyebeam will make its new home at the corner of Lafayette Avenue and Ashland Place (the district’s last undeveloped property, currently a parking lot). Developer Jonathan Rose Companies has drafted New York firms Dattner Architects, Bernheimer Architecture and SCAPE Landscape Architects to collaborate on the site’s design. Eyebeam has yet to select an architect for its interior. The pending sale of Eyebeam’s Chelsea location will help fund the new construction, and to provide an initial endowment for the new space’s operating budget. The Atlantic Foundation has given preliminary indication that portion of the sale may be used to fund pre-construction, construction and an endowment, an Eyebeam representative told A.i.A. Eyebeam will also undertake a capital campaign, the goal for which has not been announced.

The Brooklyn facilities will incorporate gallery and work space for public programming and an artist residency program. Eyebeam will share the 27,000-square-foot space with Trinity College Dublin’s Science Gallery International. The breakdown of the space between the two organizations is to be determined, according to an Eyebeam press representative. The two organizations expect to collaborate on some exhibitions and educational initiatives.

Plans call for an environmentally sustainable building with 109 apartments, 42 of which will be earmarked for affordable housing. A Craft-branded restaurant overseen by Tom Colicchio will take up an additional 2,700 square feet. Construction is slated to begin next year, with completion projected for mid-2016.

Some 40 cultural organizations will be counted among Eyebeam’s new neighbors, including the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts and the Mark Morris Dance Center.

The city first unveiled plans to redevelop the area as a cultural destination in 2000, and several long-term projects have recently been completed. In September 2012, the new BAM Fisher theater opened on the same block as the future Eyebeam location. Just last week, BRIC House, an arts and performance venue serving as headquarters for BRIC Arts Media, opened its doors on nearby Fulton Street. A permanent home for the Theater for a New Audience is slated to open on Ashland Place later this month.

Founded by filmmaker and digital media entrepreneur John S. Johnson, Eyebeam promotes work that incorporates art and technology and addresses topics such as security and privacy, programming and software, game design and internet culture. In addition to supporting roughly 20 artists each year, Eyebeams organizes exhibitions, performances and education programs.