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Long-Delayed WTC Arts Center Gets Fresh Design and Artistic Vision

By Irene Plagianos on February 14, 2014 9:17am 

 Joyce Theater, a SoHo-based dance company, will remain a partner in the World Trade Center PAC, officials said.
Joyce Theater, a SoHo-based dance company, will remain a partner in the World Trade Center PAC, officials said.
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Facebook/Joyce Theater

FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The long-delayed World Trade Center performing arts center has a new artistic team and could soon get a new design, officials announced this week.

The PAC, which will be built at Greenwich and Vesey streets where the temporary PATH station now sits, will aim to become a "global center…that will produce and present new work, primarily by New York and U.S. artists, often in collaboration with artists, companies and institutions in other parts of the world,” according to statement released this week.

Architect Frank Gehry had previously designed the PAC with a 1,000-seat performing space, and the Joyce Theater, a SoHo-based dance company, was set to be the anchor tenant. Now, though, plans have changed.

Under a new design, the center will be separated into three theaters of 550, 250 and 150 seats, and the flexibly constructed spaces will be able to unite for larger performances.

The Joyce Theater will remain a partner with the PAC, a representative of the center said, but the exact relationship is unclear.

"The Joyce Theater is optimistic about what's to come with the PAC at WTC," said Billy Zavelson, a spokesman for the theater.

Also unclear is whether Gehry will remain the architect in charge of the building's design. A PAC representative said the center is in negotiations with Gehry over the project.

Gehry did not return a request for comment.

When asked about the Gehry design, Maggie Boepple, the PAC’s director, told The New York Times: “So many mistakes are made when genius architects design a building and that comes before the workhorse of the building. It’s not a comment on Gehry as an architect. It’s a different skill set.”

Looking ahead, the artistic direction of the theater, which will also include a cafe and restaurant, will be guided by several new hires.

British director David Lan, who runs the cutting-edge Young Vic theater in London, has been tapped as the PAC’s consulting artistic director. Other new hires include the associate artistic direct, Lucy Sexton, who is the director of the New York Dance & Performance Awards, as well as Andy Hayles, the managing partner of theater consultancy company Charcoalblue, who is working on the theater's design.

 This diagram is a sketch of the WTC PAC interior, designed by Charcoalblue. The PAC won't be ready until at least 2018.
This diagram is a sketch of the WTC PAC interior, designed by Charcoalblue. The PAC won't be ready until at least 2018.
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Charcoalble

“We now have an A team in place and a vision for what should happen inside the building,” Boepple said in a statement. “The program we’ve developed will give people a reason to return to the PAC over and over.”

The hires come a year after the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation approved a $1 million infusion to jumpstart the project, which was long stalled because of funding and construction delays.

About $155 million in government funds have been committed to the project, but the money only become available when the LMDC votes to release it for a specific purpose, as occurred last year.

The entire cost of the center has been estimated at $455 million, leaving a large gap to fill.

A spokesman said the PAC could open as soon as 2018 or 2019.

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