Construction on the REX-designed performing arts center at Ground Zero could be delayed if the federal government decides to revoke millions in funding. After 9/11, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) gave nearly $3 billion in funds to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the public-benefit program in charge of the area's regeneration. The LMDC has $150 million of that grant money left to spend, and the group planned to use around $100 million of those funds on the luminous Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center (the Perelman Center, for short). That plan, though, was called into question at a recent LMDC board meeting. REX's project would be built on Port Authority land, but the agency says the LMDC owes it money for the work it did to prepare below-grade land for construction. Both parties agree on the existence of the debt, but not the amount: the Port Authority says it's owed $67 million, while the LMDC claims it owes only $45 million. These issues could leave Perelman Center construction at an impasse, but Crain's reports the two parties are working towards a compromise by the end of June. In HUD's eyes, the LMDC may have done too good a job bringing the World Trade Center area back to life. The neighborhood—with new and new-ish buildings by Calatrava, SOM, Fumihiko Maki, and (soon) BIG—has bounded back in the 16 years since the 9/11 attacks. Given its remarkable resurgence, state and local officials say the LMDC completed its fundamental task, so HUD may want its money back. Though restaurants are extending the neighborhood activity past 5 o'clock, the Perelman Center boosters say the area needs a performing arts center to fully cultivate a 24/7 neighborhood. In addition to shows, the first floor would be home to a cafe and restaurant with extended hours that would, its architect said, anchor the neighborhood by drawing people in even in the absence of scheduled performances.
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Brooklyn-based architecture firm REX will design the approximately 80,000 square foot Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center (PAC). The PAC will produce and show theater, music, musical theater, dance, film, and opera. The commission was previously given to Frank Gehry over a decade ago. “We are honored to design such a meaningful project on a site imbued with deep significance for the people of New York,” Joshua Prince-Ramus, REX's principal, said in a statement. “I am confident that our collaboration with PAC's exceptional team will help create a building that embodies and inspires the many dimensions of creative expression." REX topped a shortlist comprised of Copenhagen's Henning Larsen and Amsterdam's UNStudio. PAC Chairman John Zuccotti and President/Director Maggie Boepple selected the Brooklyn-based firm to design the project, although designs have yet to be released. Last week, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) released $10 million of a pledged $99 million for the construction of the new venue. The project may cost more, but the difference will be made up through private donations. REX will collaborate with Davis Brody Bond (designers of the National 9/11 Memorial Museum), theater consultants Charcoalblue, and project managers DBI on the project. The PAC has gone through a few design selection cycles. In 2013, Frank Gehry was selected to build the center, but his proposal was downsized, and ultimately scrapped. The new venue is slated to open in 2019.
Pier into the future: Tribeca's Pier 26 to get an OLIN landscape and a Rafael Viñoly–designed science center
Citibank announced on Friday that it will donate $10 million t0 the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) for the renovation of Tribeca's Pier 26. For Citi, it's a sweet quid pro quo: the river pier is adjacent to Citi's soon-to-be global headquarters at 388–390 Greenwich Street. Philadelphia-based OLIN will lead the park's design team. Rafael Viñoly will work pro bono to design a research and science education center for the site. Pier 26 will expand programming for Hudson River Park's 17 million annual visitors. In 2008 and 2009, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation used HUD funds to rebuild the pier to support future development. When current construction is complete, pier will host the science center, free kayaking, and City Winery's sister restaurant, WXY-designed City Vineyard, opening in 2016. HRPT is also getting $10 million from the city for the project, and is applying to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for additional support. Construction and completion dates have yet to be finalized. New Yorkers will be able to weigh in on "ideas for uses and programming at the new pier" at Community Board 1's meeting on October 19.
Alan Gerson, the City Council rep for Lower Manhattan, issued a major statement today along with the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee, which he chairs. The statement lays out 17 demands the committee feels will ensure the timely opening of the memorial plaza by Septmber 11, 2011. It opens with an imposing if realistic appraisal of the challenges dogging the project so far:
The World Trade Center site is one of the most technically complicated modern construction projects ever undertaken: the building of five high rise towers, concomitantly, on a sixteen acre site over two train lines; issues of unprecedented toxicities and missing human remains; all in the middle of a bustling residential and business district. The architects, engineers and workers on the ground deserve credit for the performance of a difficult task, and interruptions, unexpected technical problems and delays should have been anticipated from its inception.Gerson said that with the economy faltering, some might want to scale back or delay the project further, but he sees it as a WPA-style infrastructure opportunity, which can create jobs and infrastructure, which will be crucial once the economy rebounds. Gerson finished by asking Mayor Bloomberg, the Port Authority, and the LMDC to come together to finish the project on-time and in-line with Gerson's recommendations. An LMDC spokesperson said that the agency welcomed the advice but had the various projects under control. "It doesn't really look like anything new," the spokesperson said. And, according to today's Times, the disparate parties overseeing Ground Zero have come up with a new plan to finish the memorial and much of the site by the tenth anniversary. Update: Bloomberg spokesperson Jason Post responds: "We have different views. Council member Gerson thinks we need to add another layer of bureaucracy, the administration thinks we need to remove one." A list of Gerson's recommendations and a link to the full statement after the jump.
1. Appoint an auditor general to monitor all Lower Manhattan redevelopment projects 2. Reaffirm the 9/11/11 deadline for permanently opening the Memorial Plaza 3. Modify PATH train mezzanine to achieve simple elegance with columns 4. Within 90 days, the MTA must re-issue bid specifications for the Fulton Street Transit Hub with specification changes aimed at lowering costs by at least $200 million 5. Fully fund Fiterman Hall’s reconstruction 6. Reaffirm the Performing Arts Center (PAC) at the proposed location, with the 1,000-seat theater in a Gehry designed building, with the Joyce Theater as the anchor tenant 7. The Port Authority must issue a timeline for the turnover of Tower 2 to Silverstein Properties immediately and issue a status report and timetable, with benchmarks for the completion of any outstanding infrastructure work on the sites for Towers 2, 3 and 4 8. Immediately convene a Memorial access planning group 9. The LMDC must release design specifications 10. NYPD and FDNY must conduct and release a full security and fire safety audit of plans for the underground museum 11. Produce a Lower Manhattan bus plan within nine months 12. The LMDC must immediately issue a detailed status report and timetable on 130 Liberty Street and provide regular updates 13. Close Vesey Street between Church Street and West Broadway, but only if the Port Authority meets the burden of demonstrating that to do so would materially save time or provide for greater safety 14. Continue the Steering Committee recently established by Port Authority Executive Director Ward 15. Continue the Port Authority briefings for Family Members and Community Leaders in Lower Manhattan 16. Integrate the Tribute Center permanently into the Museum Entrance Building 17. Create a mechanism to strengthen construction site safety and Lower Manhattan’s livabilityRead the eight-page statement, with details on all 17 points, here.