The board of the performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan has scrapped Frank Gehry's design for the building, reports the New York Times. Officials at the exhaustingly titled Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center will select a new design from among three finalists, and though they didn't name names, they did confirm that Gehry Partners is not among the firms being considered. All of which comes as no surprise, given how little progress has been made in the decade since the architect of exploded crystal palaces, residential temples, and the world's oddest Whole Foods was selected for the project. The design tweaks and questions over Gehry's role certainly didn't bode well.
The previous changes to Gehry's stack of blocks included the downsizing of one of the three stages included in the original design, which was part of a 2003 master plan by Daniel Libeskind. In February, arts center president Maggie Boepple, who was appointed in 2012, implied that selecting Gehry so early on in the lifecycle of the project may have been a misstep: "So many mistakes are made when genius architects design a building and that comes before the workhorse of the building," she told the Times. "It's not a comment on Gehry as an architect. It's a different skill set. Around then, Gehry said that he had heard nothing but "radio silence" from the arts center board. Gehry, whose widely criticized design for D.C.'s upcoming Eisenhower Memorial deemed a "Five Star Folly" in a congressional report, more recently told the Times that Boepple "doesn't have a clue as to what I do or how I do it. It's fine. It's a new group. They should do what they want. I don't want to go where I'm not wanted."
The arts center, long held back by funding issues and the stalling of Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center transit hub, is currently waiting on new boardmember appointments later this month, as well as $99M in federal funds from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. John E. Zuccotti, the real estate developer who chairs the board, tells the Times that with the completion of the September 11 memorial, and more recently, its accompanying museum, "the performing arts center is a lot more credible today than it was two years ago."