Rock Stars May Be Among Headliners at New WTC Performing Arts Center

The three auditoriums of the Ronald O.Perelman Performing Arts Center are designed to be combined into one 1,200-seat theater. Rock concerts, possibly with performers such as Sting (left) and U2 frontman Bono, will be staged there, the center's president, Maggie Boepple, said. Theater rendering by Luxigon.

Jan. 17, 2017

Sting and Bono want to rock the World Trade Center.

So says the head of the WTC's performing arts center, scheduled to open in 2020.

Maggie Boepple, president of the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center (often referred to as the PAC), said in a progress update on the project that three or four rock concerts are expected to be staged yearly at the center.  The three auditoriums would be combined for a 1,200-seat concert “probably for somebody like Bono or Sting because they are already expressing great interest in performing in this space,” she said, speaking recently to Community Board 1’s Planning Committee. (A spokeswoman for Sting said he was traveling and could not yet be reached. Bono’s spokesman did not return a call for comment.)

“We’re not really going to be a rock venue but three or four rock concerts a year for two nights will probably happen,” she said, not mentioning whether the center—planned largely as a place for producing new works of theater, opera and dance—would host other pop genres. The rock concerts, she said, would have higher ticket prices and act as fundraisers to subsidize tickets for regular programming.

The preliminary design for the center was unveiled last September by its architect, Joshua Prince-Ramos (see video below). Boepple, in her presentation to the committee, provided other new details about plans that are underway.

Unveiling, in September 2016, of the preliminary design for the Ronald O. Perelman Performance Center at the World Trade Center.

Programming Aside from the anticipated rock concerts, Boepple said the performance offerings will include theater, music, new opera, jazz and dance. She said the performance center will collaborate with City Center Ballet’s weekend-long Fall for Dance festival, with performances at both City Center and the PAC. “We’re getting tons of famous places who say they’d like to do a co-production with us.”  

A Programmed Plaza One World Trade Center, next door to the center, is managed by the Durst Organization and Boepple said she has had discussions with Douglas Durst, the chairman, about the space between the two buildings. “It is a very nice plaza in there,” she said. “It gets kind of windy from time to time so we’re doing the wind studies, but I think there will be interesting, lively things going on there when the weather is cooperative.“

The Final Design and Construction Boepple said she hopes to see the final design completed in the next few months. “We’re doing value engineering on the design, which means we’re getting further and further towards the design being finished.” Steel for the PAC will begin being erected after the Port Authority completes its seven stories of below-ground work. “And then we take it on up.”

Tribeca Film Festival The festival will take over the building for two weeks. “Most people don’t rent this building because we’re a producing house,” Boepple said, “but we felt the community would really like to have [the festival] coming back Downtown.

The “Green” Roof Renderings show a green roof on the building but Boepple said it’s questionable whether that can be accomplished. “They have to vent the PATH train and the Number 1 Courtlandt Street train in our building, so these shafts come up through the building and they’ll be vented on the top.”

The Restaurant Boepple said the restaurant in the building would be a “casual place” with “no white tablecloths.” “We want everyone to feel at home and that’s kind of intimidating. But it doesn’t mean the food isn’t going to be terrific food. But the price point will be something that is more or less affordable for the greatest number of people.”

Funding Boepple did not say how much more money needs to be raised to pay for the $250 million building, which will be receiving $75 million from Ronald O. Perelman and $100 million from the federal government. “We aren’t fully funded but we’re well on our way,” she said, adding that “I hope very much that some of our Tribeca neighbors who are wealthy will get out their checkbooks. We are raising money at the moment from the corporations that surround this site.” Boepple said the center is also raising money for an endowment to subsidize shows “when they need to be subsidized.” And it is looking for a sponsor, such as MasterCard or Visa, to subsidize ticket prices.

Fashion Week “Unless the board tells me to change, we’re not going to be a home for Fashion Week.”

Traffic Asked where vehicular and bus arrival and departure would be located and where they will queue, Boepple said there are consultants assigned to work on that but it is yet to be determined. “Please ask me later about the traffic,” she said.

Dog Kennel: Yes, canines will have a home on the first floor of the performance center. They will be the Port Authority’s off-work bomb sniffers. “I know  that sounds strange,” she said, “but they put in things thinking the PAC was never going to be built.”