Re-enter Gehry

The ultimate beneficiary of Governor Pataki’s $80 million gesture to Ground Zero seems to be Frank Gehry’s performing arts center, which had been put on the back burner because of its enormous price tag (rumored at more than $400 million).

John Whitehead, the chairman of both the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, said today, “The foundation will continue its capital campaign to raise $500 million. The excess of that will go to the performing arts center. And now the governor has announced that he will pay the cost of the Snohetta building, which would have had to come out of our total.”

Previously, it was awfully vague just how much the Gehry building would have received of the $800 million that the memorial foundation hopes to raise from private sources and the L.M.D.C. Presumably, after the memorial, memorial museum, the Snohetta, and an operating endowment, not a whole lot. Instead, the performing arts center was to be left to “a second phase” (a.k.a. never).

So was Pataki’s announcement today a mea culpa for nixing the International Freedom Center? Or was it a challenge to Mayor Bloomberg to contribute some dough from the city treasury?

Matthew Schuerman

Re-enter Gehry