New York – After 12 years since Santiago Calatrava unveiled the design, first commuters began to walk through the partially opened WTC transportation hub in Lower Manhattan. At the centre of the project is the Oculus, a white elliptical winged pavilion. The site is to be completed by the end of the year, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the terminal.
“The project goal was to create an inspiring, dynamic gathering place that will anchor the redevelopment of lower Manhattan in much the way that Grand Central Station did for midtown Manhattan” said Santiago Calatrava to ArchiPanic.
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The World Trade Center Transportation Hub is located immediately to the east of where the Twin Towers once stood. The project connects NYC subway as the new Fulton street Transit Center. Pedestrians can access from Brookfield place and the WTC Towers 1,2,3 and 4.
Designed to remind the image of a bird being released from a child’s hands, the Oculus is approximately 350’ long, 115’ across at its widest point and rises to a height 96’ above grade at its apex. The structural steel ribs extend upward, like outspread wings, to form a pair of canopies that rise to a maximum height of 168’ above grade.
Between the ribs, glass allows natural light, a powerful symbol of hope and vitality, to flood the facility. “In the Hub, Light is a structural element” says Santiago Calatrava ”The building itself is supported by columns of light. At night, the illuminated Oculus serves as a lantern in the reconstructed WTC site”.
On September 11 of each year, as well as on temperate spring and summer days, the Oculus’s operable skylight opens to bring a slice of the New York sky into the building, reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome.
Access into the Oculus is provided through two entrances located at the east and west nodes of the building’s central axis at Church and Greenwich Streets respectively. The entrances open onto symmetrical stair landings with cylindrical glass elevators.
The elliptical interior space opens to its full dimensions leading to the MTA 1, R and E subway lines, Towers 2, 3 and 4, as well as retail galleries. From this level, visitors descend to the Upper Concourse level where the elliptical interior space opens to its full dimensions.
From here visitors can further descend via escalators, elevators and stairs to the Concourse level that hosts retails and offers pedestrian connections to the Fulton Street Transit Center, the PATH Hall and Brookfield Place to and Liberty Street. From the Concourse level visitors will be able to look up at a column-free, clear span.
All photos:Courtesy of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Renderings: ©Santiago Calatrava LLC.