The creation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) was a result of the hard work and cooperation of a great many people, and it took resolve, strength, and vision to make it a reality. We feel exceptionally proud to see something that started as a daring idea in the depths of a socioeconomic crisis not only become a reality but exceed our most optimistic predictions. The SNFCC is now the international, environmentally sustainable public space for expression, culture, and recreation that all of us at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) envisioned—and then delivered to the Greek state and the public in 2017 for every single visitor to enjoy. As of March 2023, it has welcomed over 23,800,000 visitors according to data from the SNFCC.
It includes the facilities of the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO), as well as the 21-hectare Stavros Niarchos Park, one of the largest green areas in Athens. Designed by architectural firm Renzo Piano Building Workshop (RPBW), the SNFCC is the first public-private partnership of its kind in Greece. It was the first large-scale cultural project in Europe to earn LEED Platinum certification, and Stavros Niarchos Park is the largest public Mediterranean garden in the world.
Upon the project’s completion on February 23, 2017, we delivered the SNFCC to the Greek state and the public, announcing our commitment to continue actively supporting the SNFCC for five years (2017-2022) with a €50 million grant to cover operating and open programming costs. In February 2022, we renewed our support for another year (March 2022 - February 2023) with a €10 million ($11.2 million) grant, and in March 2023, we announced a new grant of up to €30 million ($32 million) for the next three years (March 2023 - February 2026).
From the inception of the idea for the creation of the SNFCC through February 2026, we will have allocated a total of €641 million ($773 million) toward the project. This amount primarily went to the construction of the SNFCC, but also to supporting operational costs and programming costs for free and accessible events. In addition, SNF’s support has covered programming to enhance the work of the SNFCC and infrastructure projects beyond the initial plan, including the creation of the dancing fountains in the Canal, whose choreographies captivate thousands of visitors; the Dome at the Labyrinth, which hosts events and performances; and Delta restaurant, an international gastronomic destination with a focus on sustainability, which in 2022 was awarded two Michelin Guide Athens stars and one Green Star for Sustainable Gastronomy.
At the same time, we have supported 12 cycles of a paid internship program at the SNFCC that has given more than 930 young people the opportunity to enrich their skills and enhance their job prospects, to help address the high rate of youth unemployment in Greece as part of SNF’s Recharging the Youth initiative. SNF also actively supported the National Library of Greece (NLG) and the Greek National Opera (GNO) in their transition to their new home at the SNFCC.
And once a year, we return to the SNFCC for SNF Nostos, a free and open event for all that celebrates art, culture, learning, and the joy of being together.
The SNFCC has come to occupy a critical place in Greek society, and its social, environmental, and economic impact is undeniable. It is the third-most-preferred cultural destination in Athens for international visitors, after the Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, according to a survey conducted by Athens International Airport. It has established partnerships with over 40 international institutions, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York through the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center (SNF-LC) Agora Initiative and has already earned a place on the global map as a modern landmark, hosting high-caliber events such as a speech by President Barack Obama in November 2016 and the EuroMED7 Summit of the heads of state and government of European countries on the Mediterranean in September 2021.
It is clear at the global level that there is pressing need for public spaces where people can get together, talk, express their opinions, spend quality time with each other, and have fun. Our hope is that the SNFCC will continue to provide a benchmark for such public spaces for many years to come.
The success of the SNFCC in numbers (start of operation – February 2023) *
*based on data provided by the SNFCC
- 23,800,000 visits
- More than 6,100 cultural and educational events, as well as more than 16,100 sports activities, most of which were implemented in collaboration with Regeneration & Progress. 99.4% of the events were offered free of charge through SNF’s support.
- More than 930 participants in 12 cycles of the paid internship program
- More than 505,000 student visits and over 8,650 school visits
- Partnerships with more than 40 international and domestic institutions, including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Barça Foundation, the Perimeter Institute, the TAKIS Foundation, the George Zongonopoulos Foundation, the National Gallery – Alexandros Soutsos Museum, and ΝΕΟΝ.
See the SNFCC’s Annual Reports.
The background: the inception of the idea for the SNFCC
The idea for the SNFCC originated in 1998, with SNF’s decision to support the construction of new facilities for the NLG and the GNO. From these disparate plans and with the possibilities offered by the site allocated for the project in the Municipality of Kallithea came an exciting opportunity for a cultural, educational, and environmental “Triple Project,” which would include the new NLG and GNO facilities, as well as the creation of a major urban green space, Stavros Niarchos Park.
Browse a detailed timeline of milestones in the SNFCC’s progress.
The SNFCC as a model of environmental sustainability
The SNFCC is one of the world’s most sustainable building complexes of its size. In November 2016, the SNFCC achieved the highest and most stringent international standard for sustainable design and construction—LEED Platinum—for its innovative architecture and green technology. The LEED Platinum certification is awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).