The Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center
The Upper East Side Magazine|Issue 59

IN the 1950s and ‘60s, when Lincoln Center was being built and Carnegie Hall was scheduled for demolition, few believed New York City could handle more than one performance space each for concerts, ballet or opera.

Roberta Brandes Gratz

In the 1970s and ‘80s, when interest arose to restore Brooklyn’s spectacular Flatbush Kings, a classic 1920s movie palace, few thought Brooklyn could handle more than what BAM had to offer.

Then came the ‘90s. The city’s steady organic turn-around, underway since the ‘70s, began to be noticed. Today, well, the city is booming, with a population of more than 8 million. Tourism is over the top and theater seats seem to be filled all over town. Performance spaces of all kinds in both Manhattan and Brooklyn have multiplied beyond all expectations and they seem to be thriving.

So it is not so surprising that a new, quite innovative performance space  – the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center – is actually moving ahead at the World Trade Center site with a planned opening in 2020. Optimism about its future is strong.

While it may seem like a long time coming, President/Director Maggie Boepple says, “The building could not be built until the Port Authority dismantled the temporary PATH station and built seven stories of foundations. We are right on time actually.”

Ms. Boepple joined the Center in 2012, responsible for developing and executing the center’s artistic and programmatic vision. She has built the artistic team and shepherded the project through an architectural design competition. Prior to joining the Center, known then as PAC@ WTC, Boepple was President of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, where, under her direction, the Council ran the largest artist residency program in New York, produced summer performance series, and created innovative arts programs, including the LentSpace Art Park and studios on Governor’s Island.

She has held a number of government positions, including stints at the MTA, the Koch Administration and City University. She also served as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of Transport in London and led the team that reorganized the newly created super-agency, Transport for London.

Some kind of performance space was included in architect Daniel Libeskind’s master plan for the rebuilt 16-acre World Trade Center site but it went through different incarnations over the years that never got offthe ground. It could be said that downtown wasn’t ready. Tribeca’s gradual regeneration was solid before 9/11 but Wall Street was still a 9 to 5 district. Now, with many formerly commercial historic buildings converted to residential, the financial district has a robust 24-hour population that is still growing.

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