By Holli Harms
It has been twenty-two years since the attacks on 9/11 that destroyed the World Trade Towers killing 3,000, and the Pentagon attack killing 184, and when the brave souls of Flight 93 took down the plane headed for our nation’s Capital, saving those in the Capital by ending their own lives.
For New Yorkers it was a day that brought unfathomable fear and terror and also unimaginable strength. I remember all of us reaching out to strangers on the streets for days, weeks, months asking, “You alright?”
New York continues to honor those who perished that day with a yearly remembrance. Because of the work of ex-Mayor, Bloomberg and others the memorial with its waterfall and names was constructed for all to go and pay their respects. It was built so that what happened will never be forgotten.
The Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC) has been completed and is open and ready for performances of music, dance, theater, opera, and art. It’s ready for making connections between us, because this is how we live. We pick ourselves up, we reach out and pick others up, and we create. Art is our gift to one another. Art is common ground for all of us across all the oceans. We have been creating art since before we had language. The absolute belief by Ron Perelman and those who donated to the creation of PAC, by the architects and designers who gave their skills to its development, that this building will honor us humans and will reach out and bring us all together. Where there is creativity let there be no hatred, no wars.
At its core, this new space, this new gift for New York, is a space to make connections with audiences and performers engaging both in the work and the elements of wondrous surprise that come with that interaction. It is a construction of extreme flexibility and new perspectives. It was designed with three main spaces able to be configured into 62 different configurations to accommodate an artist’s vision. The seats, the stage, and even the side mezzanines are movable. Walls are soundproofed and can be lifted taken away and put back. They can perfectly contain the sound so that if one space is a rock band performing and next door a spoken word presentation, neither is aware of the other.
I was at the grand opening of PAC with our Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Eric Adams, Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg and many other prestigious guests all there to celebrate this unique space. A space that is open to all New Yorkers. The building was designed by some of the best and most creative architects (REX, Joshua Ramus, Founding Principal) New York has to offer. The building is wrapped in beautiful marble that allows light in.
The restaurant, Metropolis, which is open-air and takes up most of the first floor is the baby of renowned Chef Marcus Samuelsson. Metropolis will be open for breakfast lunch and dinner. They want New Yorkers and guests to New York to come and dine together, and experience the free performances on the open stage that sits across from the restaurant space. Open space, opportunities for conversation for connection.
The final part of the opening did not end with a traditional ribbon cutting, but in honor of the core belief of connection, a connecting of ribbons. Joffrey Ballet dancers, each one carrying a large sash, danced quietly onto the open stage in the lobby (a free stage for the public) connected their ribbons, and then held the sash as one. Hands reaching out to other hands.
Executive Director Khady Kamara and Artistic Director Bill Rauch are committed to bringing new and known talents to the Theater creating performances that enlighten and open audiences to new perspectives and ideas. The first performance this season from September 19th – 23rd is Refuge: A Concert Series to Welcome the World, a five-night, pay-what-you-wish global music concert series featuring more than 30 internationally acclaimed artists and directed by Sarah Benson. Each evening brings together a vibrant mix of artists and styles curated around a theme of refuge – from exuberant Afro-Latin rhythms to futuristic electronic beats, from traditional Klezmer melodies to soulful Rock and Funk. The concert series features artists such as Common, Laurie Anderson, Michelle Zauner, Shoshana Bean, Angélique Kidjo, Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and many more.
The Perelman is an exciting new theatrical experience for artists and audiences.
PAC NYC is located on the World Trade Center campus, 251 Fulton Street situated adjacent to One World Trade Center and across from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Leadership: Michael R. Bloomberg, Chair, Board of Directors Khady Kamara, Executive Director, Bill Rauch, Artistic Director
Design Architect: REX, Joshua Ramus, Founding Principal
Executive Architect: Davis Brody Bond Theater and AV Consultant: Charcoalblue Acoustician: Threshold Acoustics
Restaurant/Lobby Interior Architect: Rockwell Group, David Rockwell, Founder & President
Project Cost: $500 million
Project Timelines: 2015: Commission awarded. 2017: Underground infrastructure begins. 2019: Construction begins. 2022: Façade completed. 2023: Opening.
To accommodate the program on the tight, complex site, REX organized PAC NYC onto three main levels, with the layout and character of the Theater Level’s performance spaces driving the design. The three main levels, from bottom to top, are:
Public Level: Includes a lobby that will serve as a “living room” for Lower Manhattan, with a lobby stage for free programming, and a Marcus Samuelsson restaurant, bar, and exterior terrace.
Artists Level: Contains all artist support areas, including dressing rooms and the “trap,” housing the mechanical lifts beneath, and serving, the Zuccotti Theater.
Theater Level: Provides three performance spaces—the John E. Zuccotti Theater (seating up to 450 people), the Mike Nichols Theater (seating up to 250), and the Doris Duke Theater (seating up to 99)—as well as two scene docks and a rehearsal lounge. The three performance spaces can be used concurrently or in combination and can be reconfigured into more than ten proportions and more than sixty stage-audience arrangements, ranging from 90 to 950 seats.