A Site to Behold

The new World Trade Center was art-less. And then the giant marble cube arrived.

About a year ago, on one of those brilliantly sunny late autumn mornings, I cut through the World Trade Center and encountered, for the first time, the completed facade of the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC).

At first glance, it looked like a gigantic liquid crystal display, a mega version of the kind of toy that forms changing patterns as it sits in your hand. If I turned away for a moment and looked back, I was sure, the tight clusters of diagonal lines on what appeared to be a silvery grid would completely rearrange themselves. It was more like something I’d expect to see in Times Square than a building on the aesthetically and philosophically troubled acreage of Ground Zero.

Which, coming from me, is high praise.

Twenty years ago, I came home to New York after spending a few years in San Francisco spearheading the startup of  Dwell magazine. I hadn’t intended to stay on the West Coast forever, but my retreat was hastened by 9/11, which reinforced my allegiance to New York and made it unbearable to be elsewhere.

Soon after my return, I decided that my…

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