Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC)

An Ever-Changing Space in a Permanently Memorable Location

Back To Projects
Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC)

A Cultural Cornerstone

The vision for the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) began over 20 years ago as a cultural cornerstone within the city's master plan to rebuild the World Trade Center. Now fully realized, PAC NYC is a dynamic home for the arts, featuring theater, dance, music, opera, and film. To accommodate these diverse artistic programs, the building offers radical flexibility. Designed by REX, the three main auditoria can transform into ten different proportions that collectively adopt more than 60 stage-audience arrangements with capacities ranging from 90 to 950 seats.
  • Client

    Perelman Performing Arts Center

  • Location

    New York, New York

  • Sector


  • Discipline

    Wayfinding, Donor Recognition

  • Architect

    REX, Design Architect Davis Brody Bond, Executive Architect

  • Photography

    Iwan Baan Studio

Perelman Performing Arts Center, John E. Zuccotti Theater during load in for first performances.
Real Life Musical Chairs

With such an adaptive space comes a unique challenge: how do you ensure a consistent guest journey when the journey itself is ever-changing? Our solution was to devise a wayfinding strategy and signage program that offers both permanent and flexible elements to accommodate the ever-changing circulation paths.


Our other challenge was to ensure the Center felt inviting; to help people understand that the space is alive all day as a place to celebrate, relax, and gather.  The stunning cube-shaped building is wrapped in a marble façade that allows light to radiate in during the day and glow out during the evening. Visitors ascend a large staircase from street-level and enter into the lobby, which serves as a “living room” for Lower Manhattan, complete with a lounge, restaurant, and a stage for live performances.

Perelman Performing Arts Center, interior corridor on theater level with level directory, current level illuminated.

Digital Breadcrumbs

Digital displays play a key role to help guests navigate. We designed installations that were carefully placed in the lobby and surrounding areas to greet visitors, promote the day’s performance, and provide directional prompts.

Perelman Performing Arts Center, Vartan and Clare Gregorian Stage on the Lobby Level with digital display. Interior design by Rockwell Group.

Ticket to Clarity

Wayfinding is about more than just signs: it’s about the complete journey a person takes, even when it begins away from the venue. This PAC journey starts with online research before purchasing a ticket. We worked with PAC NYC to ensure that tickets communicate the stair/elevator letter and door number ideal for that person’s journey.

Bold, illuminated signage responded best to PAC NYC. Because of the vertical architectural layout, we visually stacked the floor levels at each elevator, added playful graphics prompting people to take the stairs, and created meandering arrows that wrapped around corners to encourage exploration and orientation. The theater doors are prominently identified by large illuminated numbers that can be turned off when the door is not accessible given the theater configuration.

Illuminated directional signage to theatres and illuminated theatre numbers at PAC NYC. In typical theaters patrons navigate to theater names; here tickets indicate door numbers.
Illumunated arrows for PAC NYC directional signage, prior to be assembled and installed.
Aerial of lower Manhattan including Perelman Performing Arts Center and National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

We were honored to collaborate on this meaningful final public cornerstone of the rebuilt World Trade Center site. As the renowned architectural critic of The New York Times states, “Lower Manhattan could have hardly asked for a more spectacular work of public architecture.”

Find out more about PAC NYC here and in the New York Times.

Share project