Billionaire businessman Ronald O. Perelman announced yesterday that he is donating $75 million to the Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center.
The performing arts center featured prominently into Daniel Libeskind’s 2003 master plan for the site. The center, a midsize theater backers tout as a forum for interdisciplinary work, stalled as officials clashed over the site’s redevelopment: Frank Gehry was hired to design the site, but his plan was ultimately rejected in favor of a design by Brooklyn-based REX. It’s one of the last unfinished pieces on-site.
Perelman, the former chairman of Carnegie Hall, was impressed by REX’s renderings (which are not yet public) and with the technological capabilities of the theaters. He got involved in the performing arts center began ten years ago, when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg became the chairman of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum to restore institution and public support of the project. He solicited support from Perelman, who eagerly agreed to a $5 million donation, The New York Times reports. The center will be renamed in his honor.
REX’s $240 million design shows three flexible theater spaces that can seat 499 people, 299 people, and 100 people, respectively, or be combined into a larger space for 1,200. Chamber opera, dance, theater, and concerts can be held in the center; and performances can be disseminated to global audiences via a sophisticated streaming system. In addition to Perelman’s contribution, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation contributed $100 million in federal funds to the project.