New York Times
December 21, 2011
Architecture Students Think Big for a Small Space at Ground Zero
By ROBIN POGREBIN
Frank Gehry's design for the project, whose challenge is to fit 100,000 square feet of interior on a small lot.
Proposals for Performing Arts Center at Ground Zero
Conventional wisdom holds that the performing arts center planned for ground zero is something of a pipe dream — an ambitious project that will never be built because of logistical challenges, financial inertia and simmering political tensions.
Yet for 27 architecture students, the performing arts center became a reality, however transitory, over the last few months.
Students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and at the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning were charged with coming up with designs for the performing arts center as part of fall semester studio courses. The assignment demanded that they work within certain constraints — to situate the center on about 30,000 square feet near the One World Trade Center office tower and to accommodate the dance presentation needs of the Joyce Theater, which was selected as a tenant for the building in 2004.
While the architect Frank Gehry has already presented his commissioned design, the students were not briefed on it.
In a telephone interview, Mr. Gehry said that he was unaware of these projects, but that he approved of the idea. “I think it’s great,” he said.
“If they haven’t asked me for any help,” he added, “they probably don’t want it.”
Like Mr. Gehry’s scheme, the students’ designs had to be largely vertical because the building is situated on very little land but requires 100,000 square feet of interior space. In some student plans the auditorium was on the building’s lower floors, while on others it was high up. Several oriented their buildings toward the memorial, with windows looking out over the reflecting pools. They all agreed that the experience made them appreciate the difficulties Mr. Gehry is facing as he works to create a theater for dance that must mesh with the solemn nature of the memorial and with the commercial nature of the surrounding skyscrapers.
“We’re situated next to the tallest building in the country and it’s a relatively small project on a significant piece of — almost sacred — ground,” said Adam LaFortune, one of the Utah students. “It was a struggle between having our buildings generate power and presence without neglecting or turning our back on ground zero.”
In real life, the project has been stymied not only by the challenge of fitting a theater on a limited footprint but also by a delay in the formation of a fund-raising apparatus. There has also been discussion of moving the performing arts center off ground zero to the site of the former Deutsche Bank building on Liberty Street. A board of directors has yet to be assembled. On Monday, State Senator Daniel L. Squadron, whose district includes the area, and the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, put out a joint statement asking that local residents be among the board’s appointees “in order for the interests of Lower Manhattan residents to be protected and represented.” The city and state have clashed in the past over who is in charge of overseeing the performing arts center project.
But the students did not have to deal with such issues of leadership or fund-raising or even to stay within a budget (which has been projected at as much as $300 million); they had their hands full with just the design, the professors said. The Joyce has requested a 1,000-seat proscenium theater, as well as a ground-floor rehearsal space visible from the street and an outdoor amphitheater on the roof.
All the students traveled to New York for the project; for many it was their first time visiting the city.
“My initial reaction was overwhelming — shock,” said Shawn Cencer, a Carnegie Mellon student. “It was hard to come up with an idea of where to begin.”
The Utah students had only about seven weeks to design their buildings (the other group had 14), one of which was spent immersing themselves in the site and the surrounding city.
“I wanted them to have that urban experience,” said John Woodson Rainey Jr., who taught the Utah course. “They wouldn’t have anything comparable to it in Salt Lake.”
The Utah students were briefed by various parties involved in the project, including Kenneth A. Lewis of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which designed the One World Trade Center and Seven World Trade Center office towers; Seth Myers, a program manager with the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects, who gave the students a tour of the site, including the underground area and the dome of the transportation hub, designed by Santiago Calatrava; Steven Davis of Davis Brody Bond, an architecture firm that worked on the memorial; and Linda Shelton, the executive director of the Joyce.
The Carnegie Mellon students visited the Joyce’s existing stages in Chelsea and SoHo and met with the theater’s executives. The students — who collaborated with some of their school’s theater students — also visited several other performing arts spaces in the city, including Jazz at Lincoln Center, as well as Broadway theaters and clubs.
Pooya Bakhsheshi, one of the Utah students, said he emphasized dance’s “celebration of life” by wrapping his building in a perforated metal skin, protecting it “like a pearl in a shell.”
“Though you’re going to enjoy dance, we shouldn’t forget what has happened maybe 100 feet away from us,” Mr. Bakhsheshi added. “It was like a wound that was being healed but we still see the scar. We should look at it and learn from it.”
Working with the actual drawings for the project’s underground and infrastructure work, done by the architecture firm HOK, the students said they were consistently struck by the complexity of the site’s context and underpinnings.
“It just seemed like a big mess,” Mr. Cencer said. “You couldn’t just place what you thought was going to be beautiful. It made so much more sense why it was taking forever. This is the biggest undertaking I’ve ever seen.”
Mr. Gehry’s conceptual design — which includes a series of stacked blocks with landscaped terraces — struck many of the students as underdeveloped.
“A reality had yet to be injected into the proposal,” Mr. Cencer said. “It seemed like it had a lot of potential, like a lot of prereality conceptual renderings. I will be interested to see how it develops.”
Mr. Gehry described the actual project as “on hold.”
© 2011 The New York Times Company
Budding Architects Offer Alternatives to Gehry's WTC Arts Center
Thursday, December 22, 2011
by Sara Polsky
[A proposal by Pooya Bakhsheshi.]
Frank Gehry's plan for the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center is stuck in limbo as the center's $100 million fund awaits the appointment of a board of directors. In the meantime, there are a few more possible renderings for the center—from students at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning, who tackled designs for the performing arts center as a fall studio project. The Times explains the constraints—the students had a 30,000-square-foot spot near One World Trade Center to work with and needed to be sure to accommodate the Joyce Theater, the building's future tenant—and shares the results. There's one more design below the jump; click through to the Times slideshow for the rest.
[A proposal by Chasen VanLang.]
· Architecture Students Think Big for a Small Space at Ground Zero [NYT]
· World Trade Center Performing Arts Center coverage [Curbed]
January 4, 2012
Founding board set for W.T.C. Performing Arts Center
BY ALINE REYNOLDS
The World Trade Center Performing Arts Center is one step closer to becoming a reality. Last week, National Sept. 11 Memorial President Joe Daniels announced the nomination of five founding board members for the P.A.C. — a necessary action taken to avoid potentially losing $100 million in funds that were previously earmarked for the creation of the center.
For the P.A.C.’s board of directors, National 9/11 Memorial Board Chair, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, along with the other memorial board members, chose Christy Ferer, chief executive officer and founder of Vidicom; Community Board 1 Chairperson Julie Menin; Silverstein Properties chief executive officer and president, Larry Silverstein; John Zuccotti, co-chairperson of Brookfield Office Properties; and Zenia Mucha, vice president of the Walt Disney Company. First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris will also join the board, representing Bloomberg as an ex-officio board member, according to the Mayor’s press office.
The P.A.C. board, which will begin meeting in the coming weeks, is tasked with fundraising for the center as well as making collective decisions with respect to programming and expenses for the facility, according to the National 9/11 Memorial. The board will also finalize the P.A.C.’s location, the subject of heated discussion in recent years.
The board member appointments had to be made prior to Dec. 31, Daniels explained, in order to meet one of the requirements set out by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the agency handling the allocation and distribution of the federal funds. The $100 million grant, which was originally intended for utility companies that suffered economically from 9/11, was ultimately allocated to the P.A.C. in fall 2010.
“As you know, a performing arts center has been part of the W.T.C. Master Plan since its inception in 2003 as a key element in the revitalization of Lower Manhattan,” said Daniels in a Dec. 29 letter to L.M.D.C. President David Emil. “Over the past several years, the L.M.D.C., the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the City of New York have worked in collaboration to develop a plan for making the P.A.C. a reality.”
The majority of the funds will finance the P.A.C.’s construction, while $1 million will go toward administrative operations, according to Emil. An additional $60 million previously designated for the P.A.C. will finance the design of the facility by architect Frank Gehry — one-sixth of which has already been spent.
Emil said of the P.A.C. board’s formation, “I believe the 9/11 attacks were in the broadest sense an attack on American culture, and that therefore it is important that American art and culture be represented on the site.”
Emil wouldn’t say whether the $100 million in funds would have been immediately reallocated to another project had the founding board of directors not been formed by the end of the year, though an L.M.D.C. spokesperson said that, historically, the agency has granted deadline extensions to certain funding recipients.
Menin, who helped secure the $100 million for the P.A.C., nevertheless applauded Bloomberg and the National 9/11 Memorial for selecting the P.A.C. board members by the Dec. 31 deadline.
“It shows the project is indeed a priority and has come from the backburner to the front burner,” said Menin. “Now that we have the founding member board in place, we need to [take] all the steps required to make this project happen.”
Menin continued, “I think it’s a very strong board, and I look forward to working with all of them. I think each board member brings particular expertise and vision to the board, and I’m very pleased and honored to be a part of it.”
The other board members could not be reached for comment by press time.
Menin, a strong proponent of the less costly Tower 5 site, the former Deutsche Bank building, said she wasn’t privy to recent discussions about the siting of the center, nor was she told exactly when the board would convene for the first time.
“It’s my understanding that the board will be charged with looking at the site location, but we have not been given any indication as to whether or not other options would indeed be considered or not,” said Menin. “If [the Tower 5 site] is not an option, then we will need to move forward with a current location.”
In a written statement, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he was “enormously pleased” about the board’s formation and, particularly, that the board includes a local community representative.
“This is a crucial step in our efforts to build the world-class cultural center that our Lower Manhattan community was promised,” said Silver. “I look forward to the board beginning the important work of raising the necessary funds to build this Performing Arts Center, which I know will be a crown jewel in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan.”
The Joyce Theater, a dance company based in SoHo, is the center’s only current tenant slated to operate the 1,000-seat theater. A spokesperson for the theater couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Emil said of the P.A.C. board’s formation, “I believe the 9/11 attacks were in the broadest sense an attack on American culture, and that therefore it is important that American art and culture be represented on the site.”
(Yeah, now we'll get Disney shows in FiDi!)
New York Times
August 17, 2012
Could the ‘Sphere’ Go Here?
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
A plaza opposite a pool at the 9/11 Memorial is large enough to place the “Sphere” between 1 World Trade Center, top left in rendering, and the site for a performing arts center, top right.
What is to become of Fritz Koenig’s “Sphere for Plaza Fountain”? The colossal bronze sculpture was the centerpiece of the World Trade Center plaza. It survived the Sept. 11 attack and has stood for more than 10 years in Battery Park, damaged but instantly recognizable as a “memorial to those we lost,” in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s words.
The “Sphere” must make way soon — perhaps within a month or so — for a renovation of the park by the Department of Parks and Recreation on behalf of the nonprofit Battery Conservancy.
This displacement has been pending since spring. So you would think that city and state officials had by now devised a plan for relocating an artifact that former Gov. George E. Pataki described as “a symbol of our never forgetting those heroes who died on Sept. 11.”
Or rather, you would think they’d have come up with a solution unless you remembered the decade of dysfunction around the redevelopment of ground zero. Put baldly: none of the “stakeholders” will accept responsibility but none will relinquish jurisdiction. The result has been one stalemate after another, from big questions, like who controls the memorial museum, to smaller ones, like where to put the “Sphere.”
The likeliest place would seem to be on the 9/11 Memorial plaza, not far from where the sculpture stood before the attack. That is the hope of Michael Burke, whose brother, Capt. William F. Burke Jr. of Engine Company 21, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001, and of more than 7,200 people who have signed Mr. Burke’s online petition, Save the W.T.C. Sphere.
But the chairman of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation — otherwise known as Mayor Bloomberg — will not entertain this idea. He hasn’t said so publicly, but his opposition presumably has to do with the fact that the memorial has already been designed to underplay evidence of the savagery of 9/11. What’s more, structural reinforcement would be needed to set the 22.5-ton sculpture on the plaza, which doubles as the roof of an enormous underground complex.
The “Sphere” in Battery Park now (above) and after 9/11 (below).
The only alternative that Mr. Bloomberg has offered so far is Battery Park. At a news conference on May 21, he said, “I think it’s beautiful where it is.” An aide must have claimed his ear shortly after that impromptu remark — “Uh, your honor, it’s actually our parks department that’s forcing it out” — because he seems to have dropped the idea.
If he has another idea, however, he hasn’t shared it publicly.
So what does the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey think? The authority commissioned the “Sphere” in the first place and is the artwork’s proprietor.
On June 28, Patrick J. Foye, the authority’s executive director, told reporters, “Frankly, we agree with Mr. Burke, who spoke at our board meeting today.” He added that Mr. Burke’s idea “resonates with many people in N.Y. and N.J. and many people here at the P.A. especially — given the fact that 84 family were killed on 9/11.” (He referred to the fact that 84 authority employees, including its executive director, Neil Levin, died that day.)
In other words, Mr. Foye favors moving the “Sphere” to the one place at the World Trade Center site over which the Port Authority has little control; and where the man who does have control doesn’t want it to go. That doesn’t sound too promising.
“Sphere” and 1 World Trade Center.
There is, however, a plaza over which the Port Authority has authority and which, at the moment, has no defined future use. It is a small open space on Fulton Street, directly opposite the north memorial pool, between 1 World Trade Center and the site of a planned performing arts center.
The rendering at the top of this post shows that plaza. Eventually, if the arts center is built, open space won’t be nearly as large as it appears here, since the grassy strips at the right are placeholders for the center. But it would be large enough to fit the “Sphere.”
“It’s a perfect solution,” Mr. Burke said. “The P.A. said they’d like it back. Bloomberg has said it’s theirs; they can put it where they like. It’s not part of the memorial; it recaptures and honors the past, remains as a beacon of the destructive capability of evil men and certainly builds for the future.”
Mr. Foye said through a spokesman that he would go no further in discussing his views than his statement of June 28. This extends to giving the public any idea of where the “Sphere” will go on an interim basis, and when; though he has stated that it will remain on display and not be warehoused, even temporarily, in a hangar at Kennedy International Airport, as was once discussed.
The “Sphere” was donated by the AXA Art Insurance Corporation, which insured the work, “for purposes of public exhibitions, including but not limited to museums, galleries or any other public space or memorials dedicated to those who perished as a result of occurrences on Sept. 11, 2001,” Christiane Fischer, the president and chief executive, said in a statement.
Two versions of the “Sphere” are destined for the World Trade Center site no matter what else happens. An original bronze maquette that Mr. Koenig created at 1/12th scale and a much smaller bronze model are in the collection of the National September 11 Memorial Museum.
Mr. Koenig had largely absented himself from discussions over what was to become of the life-size “Sphere.” Percy Adlon, a documentary filmmaker in Santa Monica, Calif., and a friend of Mr. Koenig’s, explained in May that the artist, who is 88, “didn’t want to get involved in the messy decisions.” But Mr. Adlon said Thursday that Mr. Koenig now wanted to submit his own concept for relocating the “Sphere” to the World Trade Center site.
“He seems to understand,” Mr. Adlon said, “that the debate is open again.”
Fritz Koenig and a model of his sculpture, “Sphere,” which he gave to the 9/11 memorial museum.
© 2012 The New York Times Company
Perhaps put it in Silverstein's Greenwich Street Plaza where Koons' hemorrhoid sits.
I guess they think it would scare the tenants though. Maybe they should just remake a brand new sculpture.
ROTFLMAO- nice to hear i'm not the only one who shares the same thoughts!...where Koons' hemorrhoid sits
September 13, 2012
World Trade Center arts space on track despite obstacles
By Joan Gralla
A new arts center on the site of the former World Trade Center in New York should be open by 2017 or earlier, despite delays in funding and design issues, a city official said on Thursday.
The Lower Manhattan Performing Arts Center, designed by Frank Gehry, is expected to be built where a temporary commuter railway station now stands on the 16-acre (6.5 hectare) World Trade Center complex.
Fundraising has proved challenging, with the center's pricetag estimated at more than $400 million.
Construction of the center will be complicated because it will sit on top of underground railway tracks - and the 1,000-seat theater will have no columns.
Even with these obstacles, New York City's cultural affairs commissioner said the center could open ahead of a 2017 target.
"That is depending on the final design of the building," said Kate Levin, after a board meeting of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), whose goal is to revive the downtown area devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Like all the World Trade Center projects - the skyscrapers, the memorial and museum, and the mass transit hub - plans for the cultural center have been contentious.
Only one of the four institutions initially offered space at the center still plans to move to the complex.
The LMDC unexpectedly failed on Thursday to include $1 million of funds the arts center sought to hire staff.
The Performing Arts Center is also waiting for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to turn over $155 million of funding that has been allocated for it.
"There is some concern about how the entire project will be funded and how the structure of the funding will be going forward," explained David Emil, LMDC president. He added that the agency wanted to wait for a clearer financial picture.
Avi Schick, LMDC chairman, suggested the funding request might appear on the agenda for the October board meeting.
Officials say the size of the new theater will give artists, directors and producers an alternative to the only two options the city now offers: small theaters with around 450 seats or much larger venues with thousands of seats.
"I believe the performing arts center is a crucial plan for the building of the World Trade Center site because the attack on the World Trade Center was in essence an attack on American culture," Emil said later.
©2012 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.
"Even with these obstacles, New York City's cultural affairs commissioner said the center could open ahead of a 2017 target".
Muahahahaaa! That was good.
September 19, 2012
Opening of W.T.C. performing arts center still a ways away
By Aline Reynolds
Plans for the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center are underway now that the board of directors is meeting on a regular basis. However, the center is still years away from opening to the public — and what it will look like, what programming it will offer and how much it will cost to build remains to be seen.
According to the latest estimates, the earliest the PAC could open is 2016, since the temporary PATH station it is replacing won’t be dismantled until 2015. Furthermore, construction of the center is proving to be complex, since the PATH tracks run directly below the site, said Kate Levin, commissioner of the city Department of Cultural Affairs.
“The below-grade infrastructure is incredibly complicated, and then building the PAC — the core of which is the uncolumned space of the auditorium — is complicated, too,” she said.
The center itself, meanwhile, is undergoing a complete redesign, according to Maggie Boepple, senior adviser of the PAC board. “We’ve been working with engineers and theater consultants to make the PAC really sing,” she said.
The PAC was initially conceived in 2003 as part of the World Trade Center master plan and part of the government’s larger goal to revitalize Lower Manhattan. The PAC board of directors, formed late last year, is charged with fundraising for the center, advising on its design and determining its programming.
The facility is poised to become a “major community force,” according to Levin. Its size, in particular, will make it one-of-a-kind, she said. “The city of New York doesn’t have a robust, mid-sized venue,” she said. “We’ve got lots of venues up to 40 and 50 seats, and then we jump to 1,700 seats.”
“So what it means,” she continued, “is that there’s a lot of great work from around the country that you don’t see here so much because it’s not economically viable.”
Julie Menin, former chairperson of Community Board 1, said she and the other PAC board of directors have been meeting every six to eight weeks since the spring to come up with ideas for programming. The Joyce Theater, a modern dance center with locations in Soho and Chelsea, continues to be among the major candidates. “We had a presentation from the Joyce about their plans for the center,” Menin said, “and now we’re discussing what elements could go into the center in addition to the Joyce.”
Linda Shelton, executive director of the theater, confirmed in a statement that the theater’s foundation continues to be involved in the planning for the PAC. “We look forward to expanding our programming in what is certain to be an extraordinary performance space,” she said.
Meanwhile, board members are exploring other uses for the center, including a community center, according to Menin. “We’re looking at what [cultural center] models have worked extremely successfully,” such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, she said.
Though no final decisions have been made, Menin said, “we continue to look at the need and expect that some decisions will be made soon.”
In addition to Menin, the PAC board consists of National Sept. 11 Memorial Board Chair Mike Bloomberg, along with Christy Ferer, chief executive officer and founder of Vidicom; Silverstein Properties C.E.O. and president Larry Silverstein; Brookfield Office Properties co-chair John Zuccotti; and Zenia Mucha, executive vice president of the Walt Disney Company. Patricia Harris, the city’s first deputy mayor, is representing Mayor Bloomberg as an ex-officio board member.
The PAC nonprofit, which was created last February, is also responsible for overseeing the budget and construction of the center. The board secured a $100 million Lower Manhattan Development Corporation grant earlier this year, most of which will go toward building the PAC. An additional $60 million will finance the facility’s design by famed architect Frank Gehry.
February 4, 2013
Planned World Trade Center Performance Center Gets a Critical $1 Million
By Jessica Terrell
Left: Conceptual model of the performing arts center, to be designed by Frank Gehry. Right: LMDC chair Avi Schick, who introduced the new allocation for a vote of the LMDC board. "What we are here to do today is to move that $1 million dollars to the performing arts center so they can continue their work developing the program and plans," he told the board. Photos by Gehry Studio (model) and Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib (Schick)
Maggie Boepple, in charge of planning for the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center, at her appearance in December before Communty Board 1. Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib
The curtain just came closer to rising on the proposed World Trade Center Performing Arts Center on Thursday, when the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation voted to release $1 million to staff the next phase of planning.
“[This] means that we can continue our studies to really tightly inform us of the cost of the building,” Maggie Boepple, a veteran Albany lobbyist charged with planning the center, said after the vote. “You need that number before you can start publicly fundraising.”
The LMDC, formed after Sept. 11 to oversee federal revitalization funds for Lower Manhattan, voted in 2010 to allocate $100 million to the PAC ($1 million for staffing and development costs and $99 million towards construction). But until this week it had yet to release any of those funds for use.
Board chairman Avi Schick withdrew a proposal last September to release the funds because of continued uncertainty over where the rest of the funding for the Frank Gehry-designed center—most recently estimated to cost $450 million—would come from.
"Until we understand what it is really going to cost, and how we are going to pay for it, there is hesitancy to commit significant additional funds," LMDC President David Emil told the Trib in an interview in December.
Both Boepple and Schick declined to specify what, if anything, had changed since the September meeting.
“We have had a lot more discussions so that clearly had an effect,” Boepple said.
A final cost estimate for the center won’t be ready until more studies have been completed, said Boepple, who is one of two full-time employees at the PAC.
But in a December presentation to Community Board 1, Boepple said the PAC board had been working to reduce construction costs by eliminating such features as offices and classrooms.
“We have substantially down-scaled the building from when I got there, which was unsupportable,” she said at the time.
Although the behind the scenes negotiations that led up to the vote are vague, Boepple said she is clear about what she will do right away.
“The next step is for me to call Frank Gehry right now,” Boepple said with a grin, adding that she would tell him to, “Get going on the massing study ... That is the absolute next step.”
Community Board Chair Catherine McVay Hughes, a major supporter of the center, praised the funding vote as an important step moving forward. She was recently appointed to the LMDC board, but will not start serving on it until next month.
“It’s been long awaited,” McVay Hughes said of the funding.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also lauded the decision, saying in a written statement that the PAC will be “a vibrant cultural center for our Downtown community.”
“I think everybody feels good about releasing this money and letting everybody continue their work,” Schick said.
I don't have much confidence when $1 million of a $450 million (at least) price tag is considered critical.
I hope he designs something with a little better "massing" than that pile of cardboard boxes and tupperware containers. That thing looks like my kids' playroom after a bad day.