New, Cheaper Design for WTC Performing Arts Center to Be Revealed Soon

October 22, 2015

The Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center has seen a lot of ups and downs since it was first conceived over a dozen years ago. The biggest shakeup occurred a year ago, when Frank Gehry’s design for the center got dumped by officials, followed by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation’s decision earlier this year that the project should cost no more than $200 million, far less than the original estimates of $350 to $400 million. In July, LMDC funded a $500,000 study to explore how the “current conceptual design” could work within those cost restraints, and since then they’ve been working with a yet-unnamed architectural firm to reimagine the plan, according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper reports that “their latest take envisions a roughly 80,000-square-foot building, rising three to four stories aboveground, where new works of theater, dance, music and digital art would be produced.”

WTC Performing Arts Center, Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry’s dumped design of the WTC Performing-Arts Center

The center will rise at the corner of Fulton and Greenwich Streets. A temporary PATH station is currently located on the site, but it’s scheduled to be demolished next year. The most recent vision included a 600- to 700-seat auditorium and 200-seat theater on the main floor (down from the initial 1,000-seat design), which could be combined into one larger, flexible space. Two additional theaters/rehearsal studios were proposed for upstairs and a restaurant for the ground floor.

Regardless of the scaled-back design and cost, fundraising is still a key element in getting this long-stalled project off the ground. So far, it’s received $160 million in federal funding. Of this, “Less than $10 million has been spent on design, engineering and other costs, with the remainder allocated for construction costs, some of which have already been incurred.” The new plan, and thereby likely the announcement of the new architect, is expected to be revealed at LMDC’s board meeting later this fall.

[Via WSJ]


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