Star Architect Frank Gehry Will Design Performing Arts Complex on World Trade Center Site

News   Star Architect Frank Gehry Will Design Performing Arts Complex on World Trade Center Site
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) announced Oct. 12 the selection of eminent architect Frank Gehry and his Gehry Partners LLP as architect for the performing arts complex on the World Trade Center site.
Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry

The Norwegian firm of Snøhetta was selected to design of the site's museum complex for the Drawing Center and the International Freedom Center.

The firms will immediately begin the schematic design process with the cultural institutions and the LMDC on the two buildings that will include dance, theatre, museum, and fine arts facilities. The resident performing arts group in the facility, as previously announced, will be The Joyce Theater (devoted to dance) and the Off-Broadway Signature Theatre Company (whose one-playwright-per season mission will expand when it moves downtown). The downtown homes for the troupes will be called the Joyce Theater International Dance Center and the Signature Theatre Center.

"Schematic design" is expected to be complete in early 2005.

Gehry Partners LLP has extensive experience in the design and construction of theatre, performance, museum, academic, institutional, and commercial properties. Frank Gehry, Pritzker Architecture Prize winner, has built a career that has spanned four decades and produced public and private buildings in America, Europe, and Asia, including Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Richard B. Fisher Center for Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago, the Ray & Maria Center in Cambridge, MA, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain.

In statement, architect Gehry said, "When I was interviewed for the Signature Theatre and the Joyce Theater, I was taken to the window to look at the site from above and tears came to my eyes. I couldn't control it. There's a lot of emotion there, even for people who aren't personally involved, and I guess we sensed the heaviness, we sensed the difficulties of building something in that context. Having the chance to work on a cultural project there is a very special opportunity for me, because, in the end, having theatre and dance and beauty is kind of a wonderful legacy for the memory of the people that were lost." New York Governor George E. Pataki said, "Building a cultural center in the heart of Lower Manhattan is a key part of rebuilding downtown and a fitting tribute to all the heroes we lost. These dynamic architects will design fitting homes for the world class cultural institutions which will be located at the World Trade Center site. I look forward to the unveiling of designs for buildings that will house a vibrant mixture of dance, theatre, and fine arts. This cultural complex will be sure to draw millions of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world."

Linda Shelton, executive director of The Joyce Theater Foundation, Inc. said, "Selecting the architect was a privilege and a tremendous responsibility. With so many exemplary architects to choose from, making the final selection was extremely difficult. We are thrilled to be working with Frank Gehry, one of the most renowned architects in the world. His sensitivity to the site will ensure that the building is a beautiful symbol of the importance and the healing power of the arts. The Joyce International Dance Center will be Mr. Gehry's first theatre devoted to dance. With his extraordinary vision, the new performing arts center will soar like the dancers that will appear on our stage."

James Houghton, founding artistic director of the Signature Theatre Company said, "This process has been a real privilege for all of us. We have had the extraordinary opportunity to meet and interview architects among the best in the world. Frank Gehry is a maverick in the field and will undoubtedly design a world class performing arts center that will celebrate life through the arts on what is surely the most important and significant urban site in America. We believe Frank will create a magnificent experience that will serve our unique mission and community. We are simply thrilled."

LMDC President Kevin M. Rampe said, "We received over 60 proposals from firms around the world and were gratified by the outpouring of interest in designing these important buildings. Frank Gehry and Snøhetta are both visionaries, capable of giving full form and expression to our hopes and plans for this special site. Their selection will help to fulfill the master plan, complementing the diverse architecture on the site. Both of these firms were selected for their design excellence and bring with them a wealth of experience and creativity. We look forward to seeing and sharing the schematic designs for the buildings early next year."


In June 2004, Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg joined with the LMDC to announce the selection of a mix of institutions to be located on the World Trade Center site. The Drawing Center, the International Freedom Center, Joyce International Dance Center, and the Signature Theatre have all been offered space on the site. In addition to their own programming, the institutions will host other events and organizations such as the Tribeca Film Festival and the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble. Performance spaces, screening rooms, galleries, education programs, and rehearsal spaces will also be made available for community and cultural uses.

The Signature Theatre Company is dedicated to producing season-long explorations of the work of a single Playwright-in-Residence. Signature's new home at the World Trade Center site will be a three theatre complex that will include a 499-seat theatre, a 299 seat theatre, and a flexible 99-199 seat theatre. "These theatres will house three distinctive yet complimentary programs that will offer year-round programming showcasing the world's finest dramatists," according to the announcement.

For more information on the cultural facilities and the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan, visit

The intitial plans for the World Trade Center site
The intitial plans for the World Trade Center site
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