On the Rise: Here's What's Up with the WTC Performing Arts Center

The steel frame for the performing arts center is at its full height, up to about the 10th floor of 7 World Trade Center. After years of complex underground work, cranes went into action above ground in September, 2019. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jan. 22, 2021

As construction continues on the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center, Leslie Koch, the center's president, presented an update this month to Community Board 1’s Waterfront, Parks and Cultural Committee. Here, edited for brevity, are some takeaways from her remarks on the status of the center.

A projected opening in late 2022.

“One of the goals had been to open in 2021, but due to a variety of factors, delays that were obviously exacerbated by the pandemic, we’re now expecting substantial completion in late 2022. We shut down in late March per the governor’s order and lost quite a few days of construction. We began again in June. So by July we were at full force with about 100 members of the construction crew on site on any given day.”

Bloomberg is now the board chair

“We have a new chair, Michael R. Bloomberg. He is very deeply and actively involved in all of the matters, particularly raising funds. I brief him very frequently and he comes to visit the site. (Editor’s note: Bloomberg replaces Barbra Streisand, who was the board chair appointed by Ronald Perelman and is now an ex-officio member of the board.)

Construction is 85% funded

“We have funds committed from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. that were continuing to access, and then we are actively fundraising at all times. We’ve raised about 85 percent of the building costs so far and our chair [Bloomberg], who is leading the charge, has said in every fundraising call that he will not rest until every dollar is raised to make sure that the building is completed. 

Pick up and drop off at 7 World Trade Center

“There is no parking dedicated to the building for pick up and drop off. Our proximity to the Oculus and Fulton Transit Hub will be very key for people using mass transit as a preferred mode. But if people want to be dropped off they will be dropped off a little bit north. The expectation is that it would be in front of 7 World Trade Center.  

Collaborations with the 9/11 Museum and with Brookfield Place

“We are in very active conversations with the 9/11 Museum about programming that can draw on some of the themes that they wrestle with, and will appeal both to their visitors and to New York City residents. We’ve also had really wonderful input from Brookfield Place, with ideas based on their public programming. 

Programming is yet to be determined

“We haven’t announced our specific schedule or program yet. We’re too far off, unfortunately. It’s very important to underscore that the building will be open to the public and that the programs will be very diverse and will be diverse in its pricing as well so that it can be accessible. 

A lobby stage for free performances

“We’re committed to having the public level of the building free and open. That may not seem like a big deal but then you realize that the lobbies of most performing arts centers and theaters are restricted to people with tickets. We have included a small stage in our lobby so we can enable people from the community to create their own kinds of performances, and we hope that those performances will be free. So whether or not you choose to participate in a ticketed performance there will be other opportunities for you to use the building and enjoy a performance. The lobby stage will be a wonderful place for performances for kids. So we imagine that’s going to be a very popular place for families. This will feel like the living room for Lower Manhattan, if you can imagine allowing people to do song and dance in your living room.