PAC NYC Earns Top Award from ACEC-WA

The American Council of Engineering Companies of Washington (ACEC-WA) has selected MKA’s design of New York City’s Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) to receive the organization’s top honor, the Platinum Award, in its annual Engineering Excellence Awards program.

Perelman at Night from the 9/11 Memorial | Image: PAC NYC

Described by The New York Times as “the most glamorous civic building to land in New York in years” and “a spectacular work of public architecture,” PAC NYC is the newest addition to Lower Manhattan’s 16-acre World Trade Center site and the culminating piece of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.  MKA collaborated with Architect of Record Davis Brody Bond and Design Architect REX on the $500-million project, with MKA’s local structural sub-consultant partner, Silman, providing design and onsite construction support.

Images: Iwan Baan

Simple and elegant during daylight, illuminated like a warm lantern at night, the 129,000-square-foot, 138-foot-tall PAC NYC is a deceptively simple cube that belies a one-of-a-kind, immensely complex structural system performing engineering “gymnastics.” 

As Prime Structural Engineer and Engineer of Record, MKA introduced novel design solutions to overcome numerous site challenges and deliver a building that sets a new benchmark for transformable, reconfigurable, flexible performance spaces.

To address the immense vibration and noise concerns from below-grade subway tracks and other infrastructure, PAC NYC’s three principal theaters “float” inside the exterior like three ships in a bottle or three boxes inside their marble cube.  These floating boxes are structurally independent and acoustically isolated from each other, the building itself, and the infrastructure below. Read our case study here.

PAC NYC’s three main theaters and two adjoining storage areas, or “scene docks,” can be reconfigured, coupled, and de-coupled (transformed) into an unheard-of 11 different theater volumes and over 60 configurations.  Balconies roll in and out, seating platforms rise and drop to create raked or flat seating surfaces, moveable and removable ceiling rigging raises or lowers, and walls appear and disappear—all seamlessly transforming three performance spaces into many configurations ranging from intimate 100-person black-box venues to epic 1,000-person concerts.  This is thanks to four retractable, acoustically isolated, and gigantic “guillotine” doors separating the three theaters—the first of their kind for a performing arts venue at this scale and for this application.

Pete Range, Katie Reif, and Jay Taylor celebrate! | Image: MKA

MKA and PAC NYC have now advanced to the ACEC national competition, the winners of which will be announced on May 15 in Washington, DC. 

Congratulations, Perelman team!

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