Knockdown Center

New York City, New York (NY)

The Knockdown Center: a glass factory turned event space.

Exploring the Knockdown Center in New York

In the midst of New York's outer boroughs, the Knockdown Center has been breathing new life into the city’s clubbing scene for the past decade. Encompassing 3 acres of Maspeth, Queens, the center was originally established in 1903 as a glass manufacturing facility, Gleason-Tiebout Glass. The site evolved over the decades; as the Manhattan Door Factory it gained attention for its production of the Knock-Down door frame, invented by Samuel Sklar in 1956.

Central to the Knockdown Center's mission is its support for emerging artists, providing a platform for creativity and innovation to flourish. Through artist residencies, grants, and commissions, the venue empowers artists to push boundaries, experiment with new ideas, and engage with their audiences.

Creating the Knockdown Center

The Knockdown Center’s most recent evolution occurred in 2013, when it transitioned from industrial use to a dynamic space dedicated to the arts. Rather than sell, David Sklar, who inherited the property, collaborated with artists like Michael Merck and Tyler Myers, co-founder and director, to realise the building’s potential as an events venue.

“I just saw so much possibility in the building, and wanted to help it be what we thought it could be.”

Tyler Myers executive director of Knockdown Center.

Initially intended for simple construction work, the renovation project evolved into an unexpected archaeological endeavour once workers unearthed remnants of the building's past as the Gleason-Tiebout Glass Factory. These remnants included an immense iron crucible and glass marbles, which shed light on the building's industrial history.

Today, certain elements have been preserved and incorporated into the center, such as blocks of coloured glass, now housing the techno club BASEMENT. And Myers, describes the space as a narrative of layers, reminiscent of the intricate history of New York City itself.

“I think with all old architecture, part of what makes it so interesting and for me, so appealing for new purposes is the way that the history of a place evolves based on the community that’s there at any given time.”

Tyler Myers.

Myers emphasises the importance of community engagement in shaping the venue's identity, noting a shift in nightlife towards more inclusive experiences over flashy extravagance.

“I think that there’s a movement in nightlife away from sparkly Champagne bottles and more towards collective engagement.”

Tyler Myers.

Knockdown Center 8

Knockdown Center and Global Success

Since 2013, the Knockdown Center has ascended to global recognition, earning a place in DJ Mag's Top 100 Clubs for consecutive years. Myers and Merck began with projects like the Frieze Art Fair installation, they also explored innovative programming, including mini golf courses and interactive art exhibitions.

The venue's success has been marked by milestone events like the 2016 experimental performance art show "Authority Figure," featuring groundbreaking artists SOPHIE, Devonte Hynes, and Caroline Polachek. Similarly Suspended Forest, an art installation of discarded Christmas trees by Michael Neff was a big success.

However, the Knockdown Center has become more than a concert venue; it's a cultural place deeply embedded in the Queens community. Under the guidance of executive director Tyler Myers, the center has curated a diverse array of programming, blending local talent with international allure.

"We want to show New York City a version of the exciting sonic innovations that are happening in Europe and all around the world."

Tyler Myers.

Live music at Knockdown Center transcends boundaries, showcasing acclaimed global artists like Arooj Aftab and Matmos. The annual Outline Festival, launched in 2021, underscores the venue's commitment to cross-genre excellence, while recurring parties like Bushwig and Everyday People celebrate diversity and inclusivity.

As the Knockdown Center continues to evolve, it remains dedicated to inspiring and facilitating inventive cultural projects that push the boundaries of creativity.

Inside the Knockdown Center

"Knockdown is a space where everyone can come as they are, have a good time, and be with like-minded individuals."

Ray Testa, Head of Operations.

Its 50,000 square-foot building, comprising nine different spaces including a Main Space, Gallery, Ready Room, and The Ruins, has also hosted acclaimed artists like LCD Soundsystem, Yung Lean, and Chelsea Manning. The historic 20,000 square feet Main Space, can accommodate up to 3,100 guests, and honours the center’s industrial origins as the former door factory.

The Ruins, an outdoor area, is a wonderful space during the summer months, hosting acts like Hot Since 82 and Eli Escobar's Tiki Disco. With a generous 19,000-square-foot concrete patio surrounded by open-air and enclosed structures, this space, once a boiler room, accommodates up to 1,500 attendees.

Yet, the venue's true allure lies in the underground BASEMENT, a space that has become synonymous with cutting-edge techno. With its strict rules and purposeful curation, BASEMENT has redefined underground music culture, attracting artists like Juliana Huxtable and Hiroko Yamamura.

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What you need to know

Knockdown Center
52-19 Flushing Ave, Maspeth, NY 11378
40.715702, -73.914360
Official Website
Tips before you visit