Perelman Performing Arts Center

Location: Manhattan, New York City, NY
Architect: REX, Davis Brody Bond, Joshua Prince-Ramus
Products: KA Twin Series Actuators and RS-4 Control Panel
Glazing Co: Vespa Stone

About the Project
LEED Silver project
A sumptuous puzzle box sits on a dark cushion at the edge of the World Trade Center. The surface is a mosaic of marble tiles. Deep inside is a box within a box, containing yet more compartments, which can be separated and rearranged by sliding partitions or combined into a single room. During the day, the whole package is creamy and opaque, a sculpture best admired from a distance. At dusk, it glows from inside and the exterior is revealed as a translucent membrane of stone.
Inside, a is a suite of three rooms which can be deployed in various combinations or fused into one big auditorium. Walls fly away, stages lower and lift, orchestra pits open up, and mobile towers glide into position. Seating can be raked, arranged in the round, or eliminated entirely. “Fractions of an inch become important,” says Gavin Green, a founding partner of the U.K.-based theatrical consulting firm Charcoalblue. “All the components move robustly and with a high level of precision. But it’s not just a machine or a black box. The room is packed with personality and warmth. It’s a celebration of those people onstage, and it’s about trying to get a tightly focused relationship with the audience.”
There’s something quietly exhilarating about the combination of precision and possibility nested in a translucent shell. Amid the whole collection of grandiose structures at the World Trade Center, the Perelman alone seems to deal so elegantly with the site’s daunting range of demands. And the story of those technical challenges and intricate solutions shouldn’t overshadow the basic, improbable fact of the building’s existence.