Frank Gehry is officially out as the designer of a planned Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center. Instead, designs by three other architectural firms are being considered, officials at the center confirmed to the New York Times. “It’s fine,” Gehry said of the change. “I don’t want to go where I’m not wanted.”
Though much of the new World Trade Center site has been plagued by delays (among other problems) over the past decade, the Performing Arts Center, first envisioned as part of the site’s master plan by Daniel Libeskind in 2003, has been particularly slow to develop. Two of the proposed tenants, the Drawing Center and the International Freedom Center, were deemed too controversial by then-governor George Pataki, who declared that he needed an “absolute guarantee” that the institutions would not do anything “to denigrate America.” The project still needs to raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
Gehry, chosen as the project’s architect back in 2004, originally designed a 1,000-seat theater just to the north of the memorial grounds. The preliminary design resembled an array of stacked boxes on a site dotted with trees. Later, the plan changed to include three smaller theaters, and Gehry’s role in the project has been up in the air for months.
To make matters worse for the starchitect, it appears the board of the Performing Arts Center elected not to tell him about the change. According to the Times, “he had not been told of the board’s decision, saying he’d heard ‘zero at ground zero.'” Ouch.