Glow Up

by | Feb 3, 2022 | Culture, Downtown Living, Music

SHINE ON The PAC’s translucent marble walls will light up from the inside at night. Photography by Luxigon.

The Perelman Performing Arts Center will bring beauty and closure to downtown.

IN THE WAKE OF THE SEPTEMBER 11TH ATTACKS on the World Trade Center complex, great architectural minds gathered around the devastation to rebuild. Nearly 20 years later, their plan is coming to fruition. The Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center, or PAC, will mark the final construction effort in the decades- long project.

The building, a massive cube wrapped in translucent marble and laminated with insulated glass, will let in sunlight during the day and emit a visible glow from internal lights at night. The inside will feature three modular theater spaces and a rehearsal room, all with movable walls and seating, capable of 11 unique configurations to accommodate audiences of 99 – 1200 people. With the last steel beam placed this summer, the PAC is looking to host its first performance in 2023.

“I think it’s extraordinary,” says PAC Creative Director Bill Rauch, “that there was an impulse to include arts and culture as part of the rebuilding, and we kept that impulse alive and nurtured it.”

The PAC was a cornerstone piece of the original 2003 recovery plan. The project was designed by the Brooklyn-based firm REX, replacing the earlier choice of Frank Ghery, in collaboration with theater designer Charcoalblue and executive architect Davis Brody Bond. Rockwell Group is handling the design of the restaurant and lobby space. The planners hoped that it would be the cultural lynchpin of the World Trade Center, helping to redefine Lower Manhattan as a cultural destination.

“In the planning for the recovery and rebuilding of the World Trade Center,” says PAC president Leslie Koch, “[former] Mayor Bloomberg articulated the importance of integrating the arts into a vision for Lower Manhattan as a dynamic 24/7 neighborhood with workers, residents, and visitors.

“Now,” Koch continues, “18 years after the World Trade Center plan was adopted, Lower Manhattan is thriving, with tens of thousands of residents, media, and technology firms joining the financial anchors of New York City and literally millions of visitors. As the city emerges from the pandemic, the Performing Arts Center, with Mike Bloomberg as our chair, will again be both an icon and a catalyst of New York’s resurgence.”

The PAC is also dedicated to reaching out to the community, both locally and citywide. They hired Jenna Chrisphonte as their Director of Civic Alliances, charged with cultivating relationships with community-based organizations and groups, marginalized populations, and community officials across all five boroughs. They also hope that the building can be a resource to the local community. The first level will be accessible to the public, open until midnight every night. It will feature a cafe and bar, lobby area, dance podium, and performance art space, the latter two of which will periodically have free performances.

Rauch hopes that PAC will be a symbol of its surroundings and of human resilience.“Whether the art is tragic or joyful, all the work that we do is in celebration of humanity,” he says. “There’s a reason why [the PAC] glows from within.” DT

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