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October 19, 2016

DDC and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz Bring New Helen Marshall Cultural Center to Queens Borough Hall

Three people stand in the middle of an open, airy interior structure.
Indoor plantings help beautify the new Helen Marshall Cultural Center at Queens Borough Hall

Shavone Williams
Public Information Officer

New York, NY–A $22.6 million project, managed by the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and completed with over $20 million of funding from the Queens Borough President’s Office, has brought a new cultural and entertainment space to a former courtyard at Queens Borough Hall.

The Helen Marshall Cultural Center, named after the previous three-term Queens borough president, is an 11,175-square-foot atrium designated for community use, providing a stage with professional-quality lighting and audio capabilities that can support musical performances, lectures and various community gatherings. Outfitted with acoustical ceilings, indoor plantings and trees, and granite floors, the new atrium also features its own new entrance in the rear of Borough Hall, with an approximately 5,000 square-foot outdoor plaza of gardens and decorative stone.

“The Helen Marshall Cultural Center provides Queens residents a beautiful, inviting, and environmentally sustainable public performance space right in the heart of Borough Hall,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “We were very happy to partner with Borough President Melinda Katz on the completion of this stunning atrium and look forward to it providing cultural opportunities for Queens for decades to come.”

"Mrs. Marshall's distinguished service in office spanned across three decades, where she was a fighter, an advocate, a lifelong public servant,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “As Borough President, she spearheaded efforts to construct this facility, envisioning it as a place where the people of Queens could hold cultural, civic and entertainment events that would provide enrichment to the community. We are proud to name it in honor as a tribute to her legacy."

A headshot of a DDC employee.
DDC Project Manager George Sahm

The design incorporates an arched roof with exposed structural trusses and uses parts of the former exterior of the building to form walls in three directions. It includes a 40-foot vaulted ceiling with skylights that allow for natural illumination of the space, and high efficiency mechanical systems, that will allow it to earn LEED certification as an example of sustainability. The space also features full handicapped access with lifts, including to the elevated wooden stage.

George Sahm, an Astoria native who attended Flushing High School and Queens College, managed the project for DDC. He said he felt proud to be able to contribute to his home borough.

“I’m happy to give back to Queens, where I live and where I was raised,” said Sahm, a Project Manager who has worked for DDC for 16 years. “This space is suitable for all kinds of events, from weddings to concerts or shows and other performances that bring communities together. It’s a great new addition to Borough Hall.”

The Helen Marshall Cultural Center ceremonially opened on September 27, with a ceremony in front of a crowd of approximately 400 people.

A new, bright facade of a building. Above the double doors, a wall-mounted sign says Helen Marshall Cultural Center.The rear entrance of the new Helen Marshall Cultural Center leads to a 5,000-square-foot outdoor plaza of gardens and decorative stone

About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s lenses of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, new or upgraded roadways, sewers, water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative, and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to city projects. For more information, please visit