- Nearly 15 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 obliterated the World Trade Center complex, the first phase of a new, $4 billion WTC transportation hub is open for business today, along with its centerpiece — the Oculus, with 75,000 square feet of retail space. The new hub opens well in advance of the launch of the connections to 11 New York City subway lines and underground PATH trains to New Jersey.
- Designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava and built by contractor Skanska USA, Oculus is constructed of glass and 11,500 tons of structural steel. It is intended to resemble a dove in flight, according to Yahoo News.
- The Oculus glass roof will bring natural light into a space that is expected to see 250,000 commuters each day and will be the third largest transportation center in New York City, after Grand Central and Pennsylvania Stations, according to Skanska.
Oculus will also feature a tribute to the nearly 3,000 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks — a 330-foot retractable skylight that will be open in good weather and annually on September 11.
Rich Cavallaro, president and CEO of Skanska USA, said in a statement, "Both our Oculus and PATH Hall projects were massively complex engineering and construction projects filled with added challenges — including keeping the No. 1 Subway Line operating and removing 200 million gallons of water from the site after Superstorm Sandy. As the Oculus opens for the first time today, we hope New Yorkers enjoy this marvel as much as we did building it."
Calatrava said the Oculus is a monument to everyday life and a sign of peace and reconstruction. However, not everyone is on board with the aesthetic.
The Wall Street Journal criticized the extravagant nature of the structure and said, "The Hub is the apogee of a kind of architecture that wows rather than elevates."