Mystery Team of ‘Brilliant’ People Working on WTC Arts Center

By Jessica Dailey Curbed

The plans for the performing arts center at the World Trade Center are moving forward, but many details remain unknown. The center’s president, Maggie Boepple, updated Manhattan’s Community Board 1 last night, and the Tribeca Trib relays what foggy details were revealed. Boepple said an “A team” that includes “one of the world’s most brilliant artistic directors and filmmakers” is reworking the plans, but she would not say who they were. She also said they’ve nixed the plan for one big 1,000-seat theater, but she would not say how many seats there will be instead. Additionally, she wouldn’t put a price tag on the project, but she said that it would be less than the previous $300M to $700M estimates.

The mystery stems from the team not really know what the heck the center will hold or what it would look like. Boepple admitted that the original multi-level, tree-specked design by Frank Gehry, who is still the architect, was revealed prematurely. Evidently, they tapped the architect before they even knew what they wanted inside or what exactly the site would look like. Currently, the site is occupied by the temporary PATH Station, so viewing the physical property as it would be built on is impossible.

Despite the uncertainty, there were a few concrete things Boepple shared. They are proposing to name the space The World Center for the Performing Arts, and it will be “a smart theater,” which means it’s “very connected.” The center will have a cafe that will be “a kind of cultural hub,” and there will be public events throughout the day that the community can attend.

The new designs should be revealed within four months. As for construction, who knows; an estimated timeline was not even revealed during the meeting. But if the transit hub opens on time in 2015 and the temporary PATH Station is promptly removed, maybe work could possibly begin in 2016, but we’re not holding our breath.

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