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LES Mainstay ABC No Rio Finally Begins Its Transformation

After years of delays, the longtime punk fixture will soon have a new, passive-house headquarters

ABC No Rio in its current form will soon be no more. The Lower East Side cultural space, a neighborhood fixture for artists and activists since 1980, is on the verge of being demolished, reports the New York Times. The building, which has become weakened and decrepit over time, will be restructured into a new environmentally-friendly structure complete with a rooftop garden and natural ventilation and lighting to reduce energy consumption. Architect Paul Castrucci says that the revamped center will be "one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the city."

ABC No Rio has been, and will continue to be, a home for revolutionary artists to confront aspects of society including culture, politics, and corporate commercialism through art. Throughout its 36-year run, the Lower East Side center has endured hardships of its own in the form of rent hikes, an eviction battle with former Mayor Giuliani, and increasing gentrification among what was once a less-than-desirable area of Manhattan.

After delaying the rebuilding project for several years, ABC No Rio was forced to push forward after the sale of the neighboring Streit's Matzo Factory, which will be demolished and turned into multi-million-dollar condos. ABC No Rio wouldn’t hold up to the demolition next door, and so the time has come for a razing of their own.

The final art shows at the current art center is scheduled for June 10. Afterwards, performances will be held at other venues. Some artists are making plans to "go into exile" as they await the new building's completion.