Will the Frank Gehry-Designed World Trade Center Arts Complex Ever Be Built?

A model of Frank Gehry's design for the planned World Trade Center Performing Arts Center.
A model of Frank Gehry's design for the planned World Trade Center Performing Arts Center. Photo: courtesy Frank Gehry Architects, PAC Mass.

Articles from the Wall Street Journal and New York City real estate blog Curbed outline several major roadblocks for the planned World Trade Center Performing Arts Center. Foremost among them is the complex’s $455 million price tag, and construction complications caused by existing infrastructure for the PATH transit hub as well as subway emergency exits and ventilation shafts. In the works for over 10 years, the project has yet to break ground.

New mayor Bill de Blasio has not voiced his position on the center, which was heavily supported by former mayor Mike Bloomberg. The continued involvement of Frank Gehry, selected as architect in 2004, is uncertain following the appointment of a new artistic team last month. The adapted plans replace a 1,000-seat performance space intended for the Joyce Theater, formerly considered the center’s anchor tenant, with three smaller theaters.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation offered the Drawing Center space in the complex in June of 2004, but then-governor George Pataki demanded that the museum would promise not to display politically-charged artwork on the site of the 9/11 attacks. The center ultimately chose to remain in Soho, expanding its space in its longtime 35 Wooster Street home.


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