Arts Venue at World Trade Center Offers Visionary Productions Amid Visually Striking Setting
Lower Manhattan is days away from welcoming its next great cultural hub, signature public space, architectural landmark, and transformative amenity. The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC), at the World Trade Center, is slated to open on September 15. “This is the result of literally years of work by our team, and the dedication of dozens of artists who all said ‘yes’ when we called,” says Artistic Director Bill Rauch.
“We have three mid-sized venues that can transform into over 60 different layouts,” continues Mr. Rauch, “from thrust to proscenium to in-the-round.” The 129,000-square-foot building incorporates four massive, vertically sliding “guillotine” walls (ranging in weight from 23 to 46 tons each) to create theaters that can be combined and reconfigured into various proportions and formats, to accommodate everything from intimate drama to dance to opera, with audiences ranging in size from 90 to 950 seats. From behind the scenes, these visible exteriors are backed up by a two-level system of interwoven catwalks and walkable grids, which allow for a wide breadth of theatrical rigging overhead, to support the multiple stage configurations.
Guests will enter via the grand staircase ascending from the World Trade Center Plaza (near Fulton and Greenwich Streets), beneath a visually stunning facade that consists of a translucent marble cube—appearing as a windowless geometric solid by day, transformed at night into a glowing alabaster hexahedron, suspended above the surrounding streetscape. This effect is achieved with the use of white marble, shaved so thin that light from the outside penetrates the building’s facade during the day, while light from the inside will radiate outward through the structure’s skin during the evening, giving it a milky iridescence.
Inside, there are three tiers. The public level is intended to serve as a “living room” for Lower Manhattan, with a lobby stage for free shows. “This is where we will have year-round family programming,” says Mr. Rauch, “and our season opening, which is five pay-what-you-wish concerts, on the theme of refuge, with acclaimed musical artists from all over the world.” The public level is also home to a restaurant and bar, with an exterior terrace. The intermediate tier will house the the artists level, with support areas, dressing rooms and mechanical lifts serving the performance spaces above. And the theater level will enclose the three performance spaces, named for John Zuccotti, Mike Nichols, and the Doris Duke Foundation.
“We’ve commissioned artists across generations, backgrounds, and artistic disciplines to work with each other to create and present new works for this first season,” Mr. Rauch says. “Our inaugural season has four world premieres, four New York premieres, and many opportunities to see extraordinary artists in these unique dynamic spaces. This season is designed to offer something for everyone, to welcome the broadest possible audiences with performances that excite and move them.” Ambitious new works in the inaugural season will include those from Tony Award-winning director and choreographer Bill T. Jones, Tony Award-winning choreographer Sonya Tayeh, Grammy winner Anthony Roth Costanzo in an intimate musical cabaret, and legendary film actor Laurence Fishburne in an autobiographical solo play.
Partnerships with other arts groups will include collaborations with the Tribeca Festival, the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz, an all-Native American stand-up comedy festival, and ‘Conversations at PAC NYC,’” a curated series of discussions with cultural change-makers, such as Kerry Washington and Jada Pinkett Smith.
In addition to his duties as the PAC’s Artistic Director, Mr. Rauch will also be co-directing a reimagined version of “Cats,” set amid New York’s ballroom dance culture.
“Being here, on the site of the World Trade Center, it is important to us to contribute to the healing of the City by bringing creativity and joy to this location. Our vision is to affirm life, embody community, entertain audiences, and embrace the arts as we move forward together as a City,” he says.
PAC NYC memberships, starting at $10 for the inaugural season, are now available. Tickets, starting at $39, are currently on sale for all performances through February. For more information, please browse PACNYC.org or call 212-266-3000.