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Trust for Gov­er­nors Island Announces Four New Year-Round Arts, Edu­ca­tion­al, Envi­ron­men­tal and Cul­tur­al Tenants

Feb­ru­ary 2, 2021 (New York, NY) – The Trust for Gov­er­nors Island today announced four new ten­ants are tak­ing space in the Island’s his­toric dis­trict. Bil­lion Oys­ter Project, Shan­dak­en Projects, the Insti­tute for Pub­lic Archi­tec­ture and Beam Cen­ter were des­ig­nat­ed as ten­ants fol­low­ing a pub­lic RFP process seek­ing artis­tic, cul­tur­al, envi­ron­men­tal and edu­ca­tion­al ten­ants released in March 2020. Ten­ants announced today will occu­py three build­ings in the his­toric Nolan Park area of Gov­er­nors Island on a year-round basis. 

Today’s announce­ment rep­re­sents a key mile­stone as part of the Trust’s ongo­ing strat­e­gy and vision to reac­ti­vate the Island’s near­ly 1.3M SF of his­toric build­ings, and an impor­tant step in mov­ing towards mak­ing the Island a year-round pub­lic des­ti­na­tion with expand­ed edu­ca­tion­al, non-prof­it and com­mer­cial ten­an­cies. Join­ing a com­mu­ni­ty of year-round ten­ants includ­ing the Low­er Man­hat­tan Cul­tur­al Coun­cil and Urban Assem­bly New York Har­bor School, the four non-prof­it ten­ants announced today will help reac­ti­vate near­ly 11,500 SF of space with­in the Island’s His­toric District. 

New York­ers already enjoy Gov­er­nors Island in the warmer months – and the beau­ti­ful open space that makes this island so spe­cial is here to stay. But tak­ing full advan­tage of our city’s space means get­ting more from Gov­er­nors Island year-round. Today’s announce­ment does just that,” said May­or Bill de Bla­sio. These orga­ni­za­tions will shape the island’s future as an arts, cul­tur­al, and sci­en­tif­ic des­ti­na­tion for gen­er­a­tions, and I can’t wait to see how they use their space.” 

One of the many things that makes Gov­er­nors Island such a unique ameni­ty for New York City is the vibrant mix of arts, edu­ca­tion­al, leisure and sci­en­tif­ic uses that vis­i­tors can explore,” said Deputy May­or Vic­ki Been. These new year-round leas­es fur­ther that mix and advance our goal of 24÷7÷365 acti­va­tion that will cul­mi­nate with the cli­mate hub we plan to bring to the Island as a part of the City’s recov­ery efforts. These four ten­ants will be a fan­tas­tic addi­tion to Gov­er­nors Island’s cul­tur­al ecosystem!” 

With the announce­ment of new non-prof­it ten­ants with­in Nolan Park, Gov­er­nors Island is poised to serve as an even greater hub for cul­tur­al explo­ration, research and pub­lic pro­gram­ming,” said Clare New­man, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Trust for Gov­er­nors Island. Already home to a suc­cess­ful hub of artis­tic and cul­tur­al activ­i­ty dur­ing the sum­mer months, the addi­tion of Beam Cen­ter, Bil­lion Oys­ter Project, IPA and Shan­dak­en Projects to the Island’s grow­ing com­mu­ni­ty of year-round ten­ants rep­re­sent an excit­ing mile­stone for our vision to anchor arts and cul­ture in the Island’s con­tin­ued growth and restore our trea­sured his­toric buildings.” 

Man­hat­tan Com­mu­ni­ty Board 1 is excit­ed to wel­come the new, year-round non-prof­it ten­ants to Gov­er­nors Island,” said Tam­my Meltzer, Chair of Man­hat­tan Com­mu­ni­ty Board 1. The Bil­lion Oys­ter Project, Beam Cen­ter, the Insti­tute for Pub­lic Archi­tec­ture and Shan­dak­en Projects will enliv­en the island with gen­er­a­tional diver­si­ty and equi­ty. We are delight­ed to see progress towards our mutu­al goals for year-round ten­ants, pri­or­i­tiz­ing acti­va­tion of the his­toric build­ings and expan­sion of pub­lic pro­gram­ming through incred­i­ble art and cul­tur­al organizations.” 

Today, Nolan Park is home to a suc­cess­ful sea­son­al cul­tur­al pro­gram, with near­ly two dozen orga­ni­za­tions uti­liz­ing the his­toric for­mer mil­i­tary homes as pro­gram­ming space and work­spaces for cul­tur­al prac­ti­tion­ers and artists. Over time, the Trust envi­sions expand­ing this suc­cess­ful sea­son­al mod­el and shift­ing Nolan Park towards a year-round, mul­ti-ten­ant cam­pus for cul­tur­al research, pre­sen­ta­tion and pub­lic engage­ment. All ten­ants announced today will include open hours and pro­gram­ming acces­si­ble to Island vis­i­tors dur­ing its grow­ing pub­lic season. 

The new ten­ants announced today include: 

  • The Bil­lion Oys­ter Project (BOP), whose mis­sion is to restore New York Harbor’s oys­ter pop­u­la­tion and bio­di­ver­si­ty, lever­ages a robust vol­un­teer pro­gram and works with orga­ni­za­tions across the City to accom­plish their goal. BOP, an exist­ing ten­ant on the Island and close part­ner of the Urban Assem­bly New York Har­bor School, a pub­lic high school and the first year-round ten­ant on Gov­er­nors Island, will uti­lize one of two suites in 20 Nolan Park as a mix of offices, meet­ing rooms, a pub­lic exhi­bi­tion space, a class­room, pub­lic pro­gram­ming, and work­shop space. The site will be BOP’s pri­ma­ry loca­tion and head­quar­ters and will serve as an expan­sion of their work on Gov­er­nors Island over the past 10 years. 
  • Beam Cen­ter is a non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion that empow­ers youth through ambi­tious, col­lab­o­ra­tive project-mak­ing in school part­ner­ships, overnight sum­mer expe­ri­ences, and employ­ment pro­grams. Beam Cen­ter will build a Mak­er­space and Work­shop in Build­ing 107 where stu­dents, teach­ers, and vis­i­tors to Gov­er­nors Island will engage in dai­ly hands-on projects in tra­di­tion­al and advanced tools, tech­nolo­gies, and craft. Beam Cen­ter par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Island’s sea­son­al cul­tur­al pro­gram for the first time in 2020, host­ing The Light­house Artist Residency. 
  • The Insti­tute for Pub­lic Archi­tec­ture (IPA) uses design to chal­lenge social and phys­i­cal inequities in our cities. Their col­lab­o­ra­tive process involves a focused, place-based design res­i­den­cy and relat­ed pub­lic pro­gram­ming, devel­oped to engage spe­cial­ists in the field and engaged mem­bers of the pub­lic alike. In Build­ing 9, the IPA will offer overnight short-term accom­mo­da­tions and stu­dio work­space for archi­tects, plan­ners, schol­ars and design stu­dents, includ­ing an eight-week sum­mer fel­low­ship pro­gram with stipend and a five- to ten-month inde­pen­dent study program. 
  • Shan­dak­en Projects, an arts orga­ni­za­tion that has host­ed an artist res­i­den­cy pro­gram on Gov­er­nors Island since 2018 and at Storm King Arts Cen­ter since 2015, will use its space in Build­ing 9 to oper­ate a print­mak­ing work­space in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Hunter Col­lege MFA pro­gram that will be open to oth­er Gov­er­nors Island-based arts and cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tions. Shan­dak­en will also expand their pre­ex­ist­ing, stu­dio-based res­i­den­cy pro­gram on the Island to include overnight short-term accom­mo­da­tions for cul­tur­al practitioners. 


Bil­lion Oys­ter Project has been work­ing with The Urban Assem­bly New York Har­bor School and oth­er ten­ants on Gov­er­nors Island for almost a decade. We are thrilled to join this fan­tas­tic group to con­tin­ue build­ing a vibrant and restora­tive com­mu­ni­ty on the Island in the cen­ter of New York Har­bor,” said Pete Mali­nows­ki, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Bil­lion Oys­ter Project.

This new loca­tion on Gov­er­nors Island enables Beam Cen­ter to offer all young New York­ers a chance to expe­ri­ence and explore col­lab­o­ra­tion, learn­ing and won­der through the pow­er of mak­ing big things togeth­er. We are thrilled to join the island’s vibrant cre­ative and cul­tur­al com­mu­ni­ty,” said Cassie Broad­us-Foote, Beam Cen­ter Direc­tor of Devel­op­ment and Plan­ning.

This is a game-chang­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty for the IPA to ful­fill long-held aspi­ra­tions dat­ing to our found­ing in 2009, specif­i­cal­ly, to estab­lish a res­i­den­cy cam­pus for archi­tec­ture, plan­ning and design prac­ti­tion­ers con­nect­ed to the urban lab of New York, but with­in a con­tem­pla­tive imme­di­ate set­ting. We look for­ward to adding to the vibran­cy of the Nolan cam­pus with our robust pub­lic pre­sen­ta­tions, open stu­dios, exhi­bi­tions and work­shops,” said Jonathan Kirschen­feld, Insti­tute for Pub­lic Archi­tec­ture Founder.

Inau­gu­rat­ed in 2014, our unique IPA Res­i­den­cy Pro­gram has up until now been orga­nized as a mobile,’ neigh­bor­hood-based pro­gram that offers par­tic­i­pants the venue for col­lab­o­ra­tive research, design work and pub­lic pro­gram­ming. The year-round oppor­tu­ni­ty offered at the Gov­er­nors Island Block House will allow us to expand upon this eight-week immer­sive stu­dio by offer­ing 5‑to-10-month res­i­den­cies to prac­ti­tion­ers, schol­ars and stu­dents from around the world,” added Nadine Maleh, IPA Act­ing Exec­u­tive Direc­tor and Board mem­ber.

Shan­dak­en Projects’ new pro­grams in Build­ing 9 will build on two immense­ly suc­cess­ful cycles of year-round artist res­i­den­cies on the Island, which deliv­ered free stu­dio space to twelve artists, and many talks, per­for­mances, and artist projects to the pub­lic. We are look­ing for­ward to deep­en­ing our rela­tion­ship with the Island and its non-prof­it part­ners, and offer­ing a unique resource to their cre­ative con­stituents in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Hunter MFA Pro­gram,” said Nicholas Weist, Shan­dak­en Projects Direc­tor.

These ten­an­cies will fill the Island’s beloved his­toric dis­trict with new life and activ­i­ty,” said Mer­ritt Birn­baum, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Friends of Gov­er­nors Island. To see artists, teach­ers and stu­dents of all ages occu­py­ing these build­ings year-round, engag­ing with each oth­er and with the pub­lic, is an enor­mous step for Gov­er­nors Island’s deep­en­ing role as a resource for our entire city.” 

Locat­ed with­in the Gov­er­nors Island His­toric Dis­trict, Nolan Park is a col­lec­tion of twen­ty 19th cen­tu­ry hous­es, for­mer­ly uti­lized as res­i­dences by mil­i­tary offi­cers and their fam­i­lies dur­ing the Island’s near­ly 200-year use as a U.S. Army and, lat­er, U.S. Coast Guard Base. Lim­it­ed spaces with­in Nolan Park were made avail­able through a Request for Pro­pos­als issued in March 2020. Pro­pos­als were eval­u­at­ed based on align­ment with the Trust’s vision to infuse the Island with dynam­ic cul­tur­al pro­gram­ming, empha­sis on pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion, and more. This RFP rep­re­sents the first time build­ings with­in Nolan Park will be uti­lized year-round since the U.S. Coast Guard depart­ed the Island in 1996. As part of the RFP, the Trust will under­take a gut ren­o­va­tion of Build­ing 20 for year-round use. Over the com­ing years, The Trust plans to under­take ren­o­va­tions of addi­tion­al Nolan Park build­ings to make them suit­able and acces­si­ble for year-round occu­pan­cy by non-prof­it cul­tur­al ten­ants and pub­lic programming. 

Gov­er­nors Island has under­gone a tremen­dous trans­for­ma­tion over the last decade, includ­ing a $400 mil­lion invest­ment in Island-wide infra­struc­ture and the cre­ation of a resilient 43-acre park. The Island is home to a diverse num­ber of year-round ten­ants, includ­ing the Urban Assem­bly New York Har­bor School, a pub­lic high school with over 500 stu­dents that offers career and tech­ni­cal edu­ca­tion in marine and envi­ron­men­tal careers; the Low­er Man­hat­tan Cul­tur­al Coun­cil Arts Cen­ter, an artist res­i­dence pro­gram that func­tions as a pub­lic gallery space dur­ing the sea­son and com­plet­ed a 40,000 square foot ren­o­va­tion last Sep­tem­ber; and QC Terme, a des­ti­na­tion day spa that is cur­rent­ly under con­struc­tion. The Trust is cur­rent­ly pur­su­ing a growth strat­e­gy cen­tered on open space and recre­ation, arts and cul­ture, and cli­mate solu­tions to advance its mission.