Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC) Executive Director Khady Kamara and Artistic Director Bill Rauch announced the September 2023 opening of its new venue at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
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Named for businessman, philanthropist, and benefactor Ronald O. Perelman, the PAC will be a modern and forward-looking arts center – a home for theater, dance, music, chamber opera, film, and media – in the heart of one of the fastest-growing neighborhoods in the world capital of arts and culture.
An agreement was announced by Governor Cuomo that will pave the way for construction of a “world-class arts center” on the World Trade Center site, named The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center. The center will include three theaters, rehearsal space and other amenities, with 200,000 square-feet of space, three halls and rehearsal space, a restaurant, and a gift shop are included in the design.
The vision for the PAC began almost 20 years ago during Mike Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor when the original master plan for rebuilding the Word Trade Center site included a performing arts center. Now chaired by Mr. Bloomberg, the PAC is the cultural keystone and final public element for the rebuilt 16-acre World Trade Center site.
The PAC will serve as a magnet for visitors from around the city and around the world – and as an anchor for the Lower Manhattan community, with public spaces and programming open to all, a plaza with activity day and night, and an original concept restaurant ~ Metropolis ~ led by Marcus Samuelsson.
The PAC raises the bar for dynamic and innovative design, bringing together a world-class team of award-winning architects and designers. Following an international design competition, the PAC commissioned the architecture firm REX, led by founding principal Joshua Ramus, to design the 138-foot-tall cube-shaped building. The PAC provides flexible venues of different sizes, each with multiple stage-audience configurations accommodating a multiplicity of artistic disciplines. The building is wrapped in almost 5,000 panels of bookmatched marble, which was quarried, slabbed, and cut to size in Portugal, fabricated with glass in France, and assembled into panels in Germany. The half-inch-thick marble tiles allow light to radiate in during the day and glow out during the evening. David Rockwell and his architecture and design firm Rockwell Group designed the interior of the lobby and restaurant with a dynamic, glowing ceiling visible from the street to create an inviting entry experience. The lobby’s restaurant/lounge/bar and outdoor terrace offer a new gathering space for the Lower Manhattan community.
Khady Kamara said, “The performing arts have always been central to the life of downtown New York City, which is why it’s fitting, and crucial, that this new institution is the element that completes the master plan for the World Trade Center site. Empowered by the indispensable vision and dedication of our Board of Trustees chaired by Mike Bloomberg, the extraordinary artistic leadership of Bill Rauch, and the brilliance of our design team, we will strive to live up to the profound responsibilities and vast potential of our site by bringing the public joy, beauty, and illumination.”
Bill Rauch said, “Our goal in developing the artistic program is to innovate – providing exciting new ways for artists to create, collaborate, and share their work with a broad public – while representing and celebrating the humanity of our city in all its fullness. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, we want you to be able to find yourself in the PAC and find your connection to everyone else who shares in the work we do.”
Joshua Ramus said, “Responding to the sanctity of the World Trade Center site and the humanistic aspirations of the PAC’s mission, our design empowers artistic teams to imagine and create a vast range of performances and audience experiences, within a building that addresses its setting with respect and warmth.”
REX’s design for the PAC, created in collaboration with executive architect Davis Brody Bond, theater consultant Charcoalblue, and acoustician Threshold Acoustics, is conceived for an artistic program that will have vast and varied needs, to serve New York’s extraordinarily diverse arts community.
The design deploys mechanical and manual systems that enable the artistic team to alter the configurations of each of the three principal venues – the John E. Zuccotti Theater (seating up to 450 people), the Mike Nichols Theater (seating up to 250), and the Doris Duke Theater (seating up to 99) – while using these spaces independently or combining them. In all, the auditoria can transform into 10 different proportions that collectively adopt more than 50 stage-audience arrangements with capacities ranging from 99 to 950 seats, and with audience circulation and lobby areas varying to match.
The PAC is adjacent to the World Trade Center Oculus and Transportation Hub, home to 12 subway lines and the World Trade Center PATH Station. Because the PAC has been constructed above the complex Port Authority of New York and New Jersey infrastructure that runs throughout the World Trade Center site, straightforward and conventional methods of supporting the weight of the building could not be used. REX and structural engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates devised a structural system that threads 7 mega-columns through the existing infrastructure to find adequate support, then uses these columns to hold aloft a massive belt truss structure within which the auditoria “float” to avoid acoustic vibrations, and from which the façade hangs like a curtain. The façade, composed of 5 foot by 3 foot units of marble and insulated glass, each weighing 295 pounds, was designed by REX in collaboration with façade consultant Front.
The eight-story building is organized on three main levels. The “public” level, accessible via a grand staircase or adjacent elevator at the corner of Fulton and Greenwich, includes the John C. Whitehead Lobby. Within the lobby concourse, the Clare and Vartan Gregorian Lobby Stage will feature free performances offered on a regular basis, while the Samuelsson restaurant, a bar, and the Dalio Family Terrace will be open day and night.
The middle, “artist” level houses the support spaces for artists and performances, including dressing rooms, green rooms, warm-up areas, wardrobe area, and other production facilities. Everything is provided to enable the organization to produce and co-produce original work and accommodate a variety of multi-disciplinary presentations. The top “play” level contains the three theaters and the rehearsal space.
The Perelman Performing Arts Center at The World Trade Center is scheduled to be fully completed and open in September, 2023. It is located at the intersection of Vesey, Fulton and Greenwich Streets in Downtown, NYC.