See inside the impressive new theater opening near the World Trade Center this fall

Decades in the making, the theater is unlike any other in NYC.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan
An exterior view of the Perelman Performing Arts Center.
Photograph: By Iwan Baan

A theater unlike any other in NYC will soon open in Lower Manhattan as the final piece of the puzzle in the World Trade Center site. 

Described as “radically flexible,” The Perelman Performing Arts Center will begin welcoming theater, music, dance, opera, film and more this September within a unique reconfigurable space. Walls, floors and even seats can be moved to create more than 60 different theater layouts. Officials this morning announced programming for the new space, which includes several world premieres, comedy from Indigenous comedians and a new take on Cats with a Ballroom twist. 

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An aerial view of Lower Manhattan.
Photograph: By Iwan Baan

A space for ‘creativity and light and hope’

The Perelman Performing Arts Center is situated in the World Trade Center site, breathing life and culture into a place once struck with tragedy. It will join the historic 9/11 Memorial and Museum in celebrating the resilience of NYC and serving as a community gathering place where the arts can flourish.

“This performing arts center is the final major piece in the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. It brings creativity and light and hope to the site in a manner that respects its role as a place for remembrance and reflection,” former NYC Mayor and the arts center’s Board Chairman Mike Bloomberg said during a building tour on Wednesday. “It will open up a great new chapter for the neighborhood by bringing even more visitors and excitement to the area.”

In addition, he said, the impact of PAC NYC will extend far beyond downtown, bolstering neighborhoods and spurring investments. 

“It is also unique because of its location on this site of remembrance,” the center’s Executive Director Khady Kamara says. “The programming we’ve selected celebrates that spirit of diversity and creativity and resilience and hope and takes advantage of all of the opportunities presented to us by the center’s unique architecture and technology.”

An exterior view of the Perelman Performing Arts Center.
Photograph: By Iwan Baan

Stunning architecture

The 138-foot-tall, cube-shaped building is distinguishable from blocks away with its translucent marble tile exterior providing an inner glow during the day and an outward radiance at night. Architect Joshua Ramus characterizes the building as “pure and elegant and a little bit deferential.” 

Bloomberg calls the building “an engineering marvel.” It sits atop 13 train lines, carefully insulated against vibration. 

Inside, the PAC houses three distinct theaters. The Zuccotti Theater (450 seats), Nichols Theater (250 seats), and Duke Theater (99 seats) are reconfigurable spaces ready to use on their own or in unison. Configurations can be as intimate as 50 seats or as large as 950 seats. 

While artists are usually constricted to the space of a venue, the PAC instead can convert as needed to meet their creative needs. With movable acoustic walls, floors and seats, the venue can be set up in theater-in-the-round, end stage, thrust and traverse configurations.

Each stage is isolated from the others, ensuring that rock music could be played in one and spoken word next door without any imposition, Ramus explained. 

He describes the building as “a mystery box.” 

“The idea that the more and more and more you use this building, instead of it revealing itself to you that you actually get more mystified how all this incredible array of artistic creativity and experiences can all be produced within one relatively small building,” he says. 

An interior view of the lobby with a wooden ceiling and lights.
Photograph: Courtesy of Rockwell Group

Public lobby with free programs

The lobby of the performing arts center will be open to the public, where guests can watch free performances yet to be announced. 

“I like to think of this as a living room for Lower Manhattan where people can come together, be inspired and share ideas,” Kamara says. 

David Rockwell, who designed the lobby and adjacent restaurant, described the entrance as “a warm embrace.” 

It’s designed with plush stacked felt walls, flexible furniture arrangements and a terrace for fresh air. 

A restaurant from a renowned chef

Tying the dynamic space together is a lobby restaurant with an open kitchen, bar and outdoor terrace. 

Renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson will helm the restaurant. It’ll be his fourth restaurant in New York City, joining the acclaimed Red Rooster Harlem, Hav & Mar, and Ginny’s Supper Club

A theater under construction.
Photograph: By Iwan Baan

Upcoming shows

Expect dozens of shows in genres from music to theater to dance at the Perelman Performing Arts Center. Here’s what’s been announced so far; tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, June 23 at 10am. (PAC NYC members and Citi cardholders can get access to a presale as of Tuesday, June 20.) 

Grand opening events

Programming will kick off with a five-concert series on the theme of refuge. All five shows will offer pay-what-you-wish admission. 

  • NYC Tapestry: Home as Refuge (September 19) – Artists who have come from other parts of the world to make New York their home. 
  • Devotion: Faith as Refuge (September 20) – Music expressing spiritual traditions.
  • Playing it Forward: School as Refuge (September 21) – Artists who are educating the next generation.
  • Relatively Speaking: Family as Refuge (September 22) – Artists for whom making music is a family affair.
  • Childhood Songs: Memory as Refuge (September 23) – Stories and musical traditions from childhood. 

Musical theater and opera

  • Watch Night (November 3-18) – The world premiere of a genre-defying show co-conceived by Bill T. Jones and Marc Bamuthi Joseph that explores justice and forgiveness; it’s rooted in spirituals, percussive breath, fiery opera and slam poetry.
  • Number Our Days (April 12-14, 2024) – A multi-media oratorio based on Jamie Livingston’s “Photo of the Day” series, which explores our era’s strange alchemy of technology, memory, and community.
  • An American Soldier (May 12-19, 2024) – The New York premiere of a new opera based on the powerful true story of U.S. Private Danny Chen. 
  • Cats (June-July 2024) – A reimagining of the beloved musical, re-envisioned within the dance-rich setting of Ballroom culture that roared out of New York City over 50 years ago and still rages on runways around the world.

Theater and comedy

  • The Following Evening (February 1-18, 2024) – An intimate portrait of a couple creating what may be their final performance together after a lifetime at the heart of the experimental theater scene.
  • Between Two Knees (February 3-24, 2024) – The Indigenous sketch comedy group The 1491s (Reservation Dogs) presents an outrageously funny play which spans 90 years in the life of a fictional Native American family.
  • Good Medicine (February 9, 2024) – An all-Native stand-up evening event featuring Indigenous comedians from across the country, curated and hosted by Jackie Keliiaa.
  • Like They Do in The Movies (March 10-31, 2024) – The world premiere of the one-man tour-de-force written and performed by the Tony and Emmy Award-winning artist Laurence Fishburne.


  • Is It Thursday Yet? (December 8-23) – A commissioned solo dance work tracing Jenn Freeman’s neurodivergent journey through a stunning tapestry of dance, live music and home video footage.
  • March by Big Dance Theater (December 10-16) – An evening of contemporary dance in three parts, that explores our compulsion to move together in time.
  • Motion/Matter: Street Dance Festival (January 5-14, 2024) – A celebration of the multitude of street dance movements emerging from New York City and from around the world including legendary DJs, epic battles and concert dance premieres.


In addition to the Refuge concert series, music programming will include:

  • A recital by Easter Island’s pioneering pianist Mahani Teave (Sept. 28) 
  • An intimate “Evening with Brian Stokes Mitchell” (October 5). 
  • 2023 Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Piano Competition (October 14 and 15)
  • Circle Songs: A Holiday Concert Series (December 20-23) – A four-evening concert series lighting up the shortest days of the year with an opportunity to see world-class artists in an in-the-round setting. 
    • Anthony Roth Costanzo & Friends (December 20)
    • Toshi Reagon (December 21)
    • Time For Three (December 22)
    • Orfeh and Andy Karl (December 23)


The Perelman Performing Arts Center will partner with Tribeca Festival to present a number of film screenings, panel discussions, performances and special events in conjunction with the 2024 Tribeca Festival.

Speaker series 

Expect a series of engaging conversations with award-winning authors, bestselling storytellers, and cultural changemakers from the worlds of arts, entertainment, media, and politics, including:

  • Award-winning actor, producer and activist Kerry Washington (September 26).
  • Actress and creator of the “Red Table Talk” series Jada Pinkett Smith (October 16).
  • Co-host of NBC’s TODAY with Hoda & Jenna Bush Hager with Barbara Pierce Bush (November 13).
  • Conversations at PAC NYC: American Prophet. This evening of conversation and musical performances will showcase the new musical American Prophet: Frederick Douglass In His Own Words. Artists from the show will speak with direct descendants of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. (Spring 2024) 

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