Since early March, cosmopolitan New Yorkers have been able to admire the silhouette of the extravagant architectural creation that the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed to accommodate the station that will connect up to eleven subway lines from various places in New York and New Jersey. The “hub” station located at Ground Zero, will allow underground access to the towers around the World Trade Center (WTC) and its grounds, which will gradually house shopping centers, entertainment areas, and restaurants.
The construction of the controversial work lasted no less than 12 years and is considered the world’s most expensive transport station, although payback forecasts are optimistic since it is believed that between 75,000 and 100,000 people will use it daily.
The execution of the Oculus—as it is called—has received both criticism and praise alike. The New York Post even called it “an ugly mausoleum” although the criterion changed as soon at its elegant lines appeared, which according to Calatrava represent “a dove about to take flight.”
The design contrasts with the uniform grid of the nearby landscape, which creates an attractive visual effect. The presence of the white steel lattice beams that crown the high dome and the curvilinear structure of the building give an avant-garde air to the financial district where it has been erected.
Many of the reviews describe it as an architectural wonder, forgetting the controversies caused by the stratospheric cost of the project (four billion dollars). The center is what is known as Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH), a labyrinth of underground ways that ease the transfer between different subway lines.
The building is inspired by the historic Grand Central Station and New York Penn Station, with vast bright spaces and varying levels of high beams which, which combined with the immaculate white of the walls, result in a stunning look. Its concave curved walls rise to 150 feet tall, converging in a glass shaft that serves as a giant skylight.
The design evokes some of Calatrava’s previous projects— such as the subway station at Lyon— and have been described by The New York Times as ideal scenarios for taking pictures and selfies. Besides the beauty of the indoor environments, commuters will enjoy bright and welcoming terraces where the waiting time to board the subway will be more pleasant.
“This infrastructure is important because it will be the anchor and the development engine in all lower Manhattan,” Calatrava told EFE during the pre-opening event of the station. Time—and the daily functionality of the project—will surely confirm the opinion of the renowned architect.
Moreover, the exoticism of the structure will play its role in tourism marketing, expanding the economic benefit of the city’s interconnecting center. Investors believe that after it is working at full capacity this coming spring, this “rara avis” will become an important attraction for thousands of travelers from around the world, who will come to photograph the latest creation of the famous Calatrava.
The building director of the new WTC, Steve Plate, stated in a recent tour “the station represents the rebirth of Ground Zero after the 2001 attacks.” Everyone in New York expected it, especially the residents. The aim is that the Oculus will become a must-see spot for urban visitors and will conquer a place of pride in the community. Thus, over time, the excessive cost of the construction cost may be forgotten. ■