First Look: The Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center

wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon2The new design for the performing arts center at the World Trade Center has been revealed. The $243 million building, to officially be known as the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center, is being designed by REX. From the New York Times: The “proposal contains three small theaters that can be combined in various configurations to produce and stage theater, dance, music, opera and experimental works, and can serve as a space for the Tribeca Film Festival each spring. […] The cube-shaped 90,000-square-foot building […] is to be wrapped in thin sheets of translucent white marble encased in glass, giving it a solemn look in daylight but an amber glow from within at night.” The Times shortened the name to “The Perelman Center,” so maybe that’s what it’s hoping to go by…? Then again, REX calls it “The Perelman.” Time will tell. Also of note: Barbra Streisand had been elected chair of the board.

The LUX site has a gazillion renderings. Here are some of my favorites, but if you’re really into it, go to the firm’s site and poke around (where many of these are animated).

UPDATE: Curbed has much more on the design, including this: “Not much in the building will be fixed in place, least of which will be the configuration of its theaters. Boepple says The Perelman will have “untold capabilities” owing to its flexible spaces, shaped by a series of movable walls. REX teamed with Charcoalblue to imagine the vast potential of the space; the production level’s three performance spaces and seven movable acoustic walls will allow for 11 different configurations that will house everything from intimate shows sans microphones to rock concerts attended by 1,200 people.”

WTC performing arts center rendering by Luxigonwtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon11 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon3 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon12 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon4 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon13 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon5 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon14 wtc-performing-arts-center-schematic wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon6 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon10 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon15 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon16 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon7 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon8 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon17 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon9 wtc-performing-arts-center-rendering-by-luxigon18



  1. It looks pretty cool.

  2. Spectacular! Everything is coming together nicely.

  3. Looks great. Glad to have more performing arts venues downtown.

  4. Our very own Hajj!

  5. Very nice … indeed, it should be after 15 years in the making — no, in the designing. Will it take another 15 years to the premiere performance? Will the current board members still be alive to celebrate? Will any of the people who were here then still be around to enjoy this lovely little building? Moving along … oh wait, I mean crawling along…

  6. Thanks Erik, people are quick to complain without knowing the facts. The performing Arts Center could not be built until the Oculus and new PATH Station was completed. Now that it has, demolition of the old entrance can begin and the Center can proceed. I look forward to this fantastic addition to the Downtown cultural scene and as long as they they get it right, I don’t care if it takes a little longer than they say. The current results at the WTC site speaks for itself. Well Done!

  7. Fair enough. But you must admit that for the greatest city in the world, one known for constantly rebuilding itself, this has taken an unconscionably long, long, long time. Whatever the reason may be; the cause was an act of war and we could have, and should have, responded sooner under those conditions.

  8. What am I missing here? Not trying to be contrarian, but I don’t get all the praise. Are we as residents so desperate to be thrown a bone in the form of something ostensibly for cultural use, that we swallow mediocrity without scrutiny?

    I guess the architects are going for elegant minimalism but to me it looks sterile – a total failure of architectural imagination.

    This can’t be THE FINAL designs, right? Everything at the WTC inevitably goes through dozens of rounds of revisions before being scrapped and starting all over from scratch.

    As a resident living just a few blocks north, I’d hoped for a design that might offer some kind antidote or at least a transition from the monumentality of the rest of the WTC site.

    This building seems like an attempt at extending the sober austerity of the museum, reflecting pools and those blandly unremarkable towers.

    I’m not arguing in favor of Ghery’s previously proposed design. His work is frivolous and probably better suited to cities like LA where context doesn’t matter.

    But this design reminds me of what was wrong with the original twin towers – it lacks a distinct face and thus any relatable human scale. This makes it uninviting.

    Like the original WTC, it’s essentially the same on all sides.

    Ok, the top appears to have a grassy circular toupee, which will be great for, who and what exactly? And there’s also that severe crack at the bottom that presents a set of steps up to the entrance.

    Look at those steps in the renderings. Those aren’t steps you linger on or where you plan to meet a friend, like you would at the Met’s entry steps. These are completely uninviting and much like the original WTC plaza no place you want to be. It’s oppressive. You enter this building like an ant crawling inside a discarded milk carton.

    Utterly soulless design.

    Can anything be done to change it?

  9. Presumably the delays were the result of decision by committee, as it were, attempting the impossible task of pleasing all parties, from developers, to residents, to those who lost loved ones in the attack. So perhaps there is a benevolent cause to the delays (which does not negate the possible additional merely bureaucratic causes).

  10. It looks like a perfectly nice building but I do not envy whoever will oversee it’s operation. Given the structure’s location, all of its presentations — theatre, performances, movies et al. — will have to be vetted for political sensitivity, to say nothing of correctness. Otherwise public outcry is sure to occur. No creative efforts ought be subject to such constraints.

    Some years ago it was proposed that an art exhibition space be included in the complex but the idea was abandoned for just this reason.

  11. I understand your concern, George. But we’re talking about a building likely to open 5-6 years from now, more than 20 years after 9/11. Over time, Ground Zero will become a relatively genetic public space. Time passes, memories fade.

  12. Am I alone in feeling this thing has something sepulchral about it? As in tomb-like and claustrophobic? As in…no windows? Most of the performances will be taking place at night, which means it will, for all intents and purposes, be like walking into a window-less cube of stone. Not working for me. I understand the desire to show respect to the 9/11 memorials and all…but this looks too much like a columbarium. Kinda gives me the creeps – and I’m guessing all that marble will first, cost a fortune, and second, be vulnerable to acid rain, wear and tear, etc. in ways that other materials wouldn’t.

    Another thought: Just wait until the first challenging work of art goes up on stage, and the right-wing starts screaming about “disrespect” to the 9/11 heroes, etc etc. It’s bound to happen.

  13. A great loss that Gehry’s design wasn’t built. (Frivolous?! It would have been the only good thing down there.) The new one will glow pretttily at night (homage/rip off of the Beineke Library at Yale, which uses the same transparent stone idea to make the building a lantern at night), but is otherwise just a great lump of a mausoleum. The opening at the bottom makes people coming in and out look like roaches skittering in and out of an overturned box. And thus the parade of mediocrities that is the new World Trade Center is completed. The Drains of Doom, looking like the urinals in Mordor, the Falling Whale Box, the obelisk with a spike on top — world’s largest homage to Sharon Stone’s ice pick in Basic Instinct — and the Alien Bug (which I kind of like). A disaster theme park. A thirty-one year resident of Tribeca, I remember going over to Greenwich and Chambers on the morning of 9/12 and looking down at the pile of rubble that was 7 World Trade and thinking that the only thing that mattered was to build great architecture down there. To say to the world, all those murderers can do is tear things down. We can do THIS. I find it all very sad. And I’m glad I emigrated to Brooklyn three years ago so I don’t have to see it all every day.

  14. Wow, lots of Arc Snark out there! The new edifice will be a very welcome – and beautiful – addition to a Downtown scene that could readily use a world-class arts center.
    My question for TC is somewhat tangential: the new WTC site was originally planned with the idea that FiDi and BP would eventually be connected to the rest of Manhattan because Greenwich street (North & South direction) and Fulton, Vesey, and Liberty streets (East & West) would once again be “through” streets allowing traffic for the first time since the original WTC was constructed.
    I understand that in the age of terrorism, those streets have been blocked off to all but foot traffic, but the streets themselves are still there. Is there a contingency plan somewhere stating that – some day – those connecting streets will once again be open to vehicle traffic?