The Real Deal New York

Fotografiska expanding at Park Avenue South

The photography museum is taking space at 277 and 273 Park Avenue South
By Christian Bautista | July 31, 2018 04:30PM

Aby Rosen of RFR Realty and the Renwick Gem Schoolhouse at 273 Park Avenue South (Credit: Google Maps)

It may not be open yet, but Swedish photography museum Fotografiska is already growing its footprint.

Fotografiska, which signed a lease for the entirety of the landmarked Church Missions House at RFR Realty’s 281 Park Avenue South last year, is spreading out next door, to a 19th-century school building at 277 Park Avenue South and the basement of Calvary Church at 273 Park Avenue South.

The school building, called the Renwick Gem Schoolhouse, is a one-story Gothic Revival structure built in 1867. Designed by James Renwick, the 2,500-square-foot property sits on the northern portion of the Calvary Church grounds. It houses French international school Ecole Internationale de New York, which held classes for fourth and fifth graders at the location. It was also previously used as a theater and a venue for the church’s Sunday school classes. The basement portion, meanwhile, is mainly used for storage.

The expansion was detailed in a lease agreement between RFR and the Parish of Calvary–St. George’s. The lease runs for a 15-year period that starts once Ecole Internationale surrenders the space. RFR has two five-year extension options on the lease.

According to floor plans for the expansion, the Renwick Gem will be converted into a museum café. Meanwhile, parts of the Calvary Church basement will be demolished, giving way to an employee lounge, new corridors and exit areas leading to East 21st Street. Some spaces currently used for storage will remain as it is.

Fotografiska’s 281 Park Avenue South location is its first outside of Stockholm. Its Stockholm location has hosted exhibits for the likes of Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle, Helmut Newton and Sarah Moon. It’s New York outpost, which will span 45,000 square feet, is set to open in the spring of 2019.

Representatives for RFR and Ecole did not immediately respond to requests for comment.