Frank Gehry to Design Performing Arts Complex at Ground Zero

Classic Arts News   Frank Gehry to Design Performing Arts Complex at Ground Zero
Gehry Partners LLP, Frank Gehry's architectural firm, will design the performing arts complex at the former site of the World Trade Center, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced yesterday. The complex will hold the Joyce Theater International Dance Center and the Signature Theatre Center.

In the same announcement, the LMDC said that the Norwegian firm Snêªhetta had been chosen to design a museum complex that will contain the Drawing Center and the International Freedom Center, an exhibition space devoted to human rights.

The announcement follows a selection process that began in early August, when the LMDC requested proposals for the two complexes. In all, the development company, which is responsible for rebuilding the Ground Zero site, received 68 proposals that were evaluated by two separate panels made up of officials from the arts institutions to be housed on the site and representatives from the LMDC, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Recent performing-arts projects by Gehry, a prolific, internationally known architect famous for undulating designs in metals such as steel and titanium, include the Walt Disney Concert Hall at the Los Angeles Music Center and the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. He is perhaps best known for the billowing titanium Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

The Ground Zero design will include a 900-1000 seat proscenium theater for the Joyce, which the dance foundation will maintain in addition to its smaller theaters in Chelsea and SoHo. The Ground Zero outpost will be used to present one- to two-week engagements by dance companies, from classical to traditional to contemporary, from around the world. It will be Gehry's first dance-theater design.

The Signature Theatre Center, which in the past has devoted each theater season to the work of a single playwright-in-residence, will have a three-theater complex, each with distinct programming. The writer-in-residence program will continue, along with programs for emerging playwrights and for premieres by Signature alumni.

Both institutions will make performance and rehearsal spaces available for community and cultural programming.

The mix of cultural institutions at Ground Zero was announced by New York State governor George Pataki, New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, and the LMDC in June. In February 2005, Gehry and Snêªhetta will submit schematic designs for the two arts complexes, which will coexist with a transportation hub designed by Santiago Calatrava, a war memorial by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, and a skyscraper designed by David M. Childs.

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