New Art and New Life Being Brought to Ground Zero with announced Performing Arts Center

Anthony Cornatzer

  • OnStage New Jersey Columnist

In times of still rebuilding and still standing united in the days leading up to the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, a new building design was revealed by officials for a long-anticipated performing arts center to be built at Ground Zero, with additional announcements that film and theatre legend, Barbra Streisand, will serve as the elected chairwoman of the board according to various reports from the New York Times. 

Set to open in 2020 with an estimated cost of $243 million, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center is planned to feature, based on its conceptual design from the New York architecture firm, REX, three small theaters that can be formed in various configurations to stage works of theater, dance, music, opera, experimental works alongside various companies, and can also be used to host the Tribeca Film Festival held each spring. Individually, the three theaters can seat 499, 250, and 99 people, with a total audience number of 1,200 people in combining into one theater. Ms. Streisand stated that this new center would “vibrate with theater, music, dance, and film, and bring life to this hallowed ground.”

The site will also contain an all-day café in its lobby, and spaces for the neighborhood that could be used for activities such as yoga classes or voting during the elections, while also simultaneously allowing companies to create new works. In regards to the architecture of the building, it will be a built as a cube-shaped, 90,000 square-foot building that will be wrapped in thin sheets of translucent white marble encased in glass, giving it a solemn look in daylight but an amber glow within at night. Joshua Prince-Ramus, the principal of REX, hopes to use especially thin slices of marble from the same Vermont quarry that were used similarly for the United States Supreme Court building and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial; thereby infusing the interior of the building with natural light during the day and to give a penetrable sense of the exterior at night.

[September 11th] memorial…Then at night, it dematerializes, and the activity within starts to get revealed through the façade.”

Photo of planned Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center. Courtesy of Architectural Record.