A theatre in the shape of a glowing cube. Its halls change shape

From the outside it resembles a gently smouldering white cube, while inside it conceals complex mechanisms. That, in a nutshell, is how the Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) theatre building in New York can be described. However, the building is much more than an inconspicuous, albeit incredibly advanced theatre. The building is also another attempt to patch up the urban gap left by the World Trade Center complex.

The building’s façade is made up of panels of Portuguese marble. The panels, thanks to their structure, let sunlight into the interior. Depending on the time of day, the interior of the building is filled with different shades of amber light. At night, the façade of the ‘cube’ gently glows, thanks to LED lamps. The entire building is set on a kind of dark platform, which includes the entrance staircase.

From the outside, the building has a simple and timeless aesthetic. However, the most interesting element of the building is its modern stage mechanisms. Thanks to a system of movable walls, the rooms can change their layouts. The architects call this solution ‘guillotine walls’. How does it work? The mechanism can raise and lower the position of the walls to create scenery or rows for the audience. The building has several rooms with such a mechanism.

In total, there are three separate theatres in one building. In total, the halls can accommodate 1,200 spectators. The rooms are very well soundproofed thanks to rubber panels. Interestingly, the soundproofing was needed not only because of the performances, but also because of the metro line located right under the building.

The intriguing theatre-cube is another attempt to fill the empty space left by the WTC. The tragic attack on the WTC on 11 September 2001 resulted in the destruction of a complex consisting of seven skyscrapers and office buildings. Over the years, the empty lots left by the former complex began to be developed. Quite quickly, a memorial to the attack was built and other parts of the plot were developed with new high-rise buildings. The symbol of the rebuilt WTC became the tallest building in the United States, the 470-metre-high One World Trade Center. Editor Matthew Markowski wrote about the history of the destroyed skyscrapers HERE.

However, for more than 22 years, the corner lot of the complex remained empty. Since 2003, there have been attempts to create a performing arts centre at the site. Daniel Libeskind and Frank Gehry, among others, had their proposals for changing the face of the site. However, lack of funding and space constraints thwarted the construction plans.

It was not until 2014 that architects from the architectural offices REX and Davis Brody Bond succeeded in designing a building that was appropriate for the area. The project was funded through a partnership with billionaire Ronald Perelman. Finally, after nine years of construction, the Performing Arts Center opened its doors to its first audiences.

Source: PAC NYC(pacnyc.org)

Photos: PAC NYC

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Operation of the theatre mechanism

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