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PATH Terminal

New York, United States of America
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Santiago Calatrava's World Trade Center Transportation Hub, also known as the Oculus, is open after ten years of first plans were unveiled. The ribbed structure replaces a temporary transportation hub that has been used since the original World Trade Center PATH station was destroyed in the 2001 September 11th attacks. It will serve four New York City subway lines as well as the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) line.


A large transit station was not part of the 2003 Memory Foundations master plan for the site by Daniel Libeskind, which called for a smaller station along the lines of the original subterranean station that existed beneath the World Trade Center. Libeskind's design called for the Oculus space to be left open so that sun rays around the autumnal equinox would hit the World Trade Center footprints each September. In early 2004, the Port Authority, which owns the land, modified the Libeskind plan to include a large transportation station downtown, intended to rival Penn Station and Grand Central Terminal. In a nod to the Libeskind concept, the Oculus was built to maximize the effect of the autumnal equinox rays.

A Bird in Flight

Calatrava designed a lyrical form with the idea of a bird in flight. Its shape and color contrast markedly with the surrounding buildings, making it an unmistakable highlight of the city's sober financial district. Fans of the building have praised its light and luminous design, while critics have questioned its practicality and cost which have run to about 3.9 billion dollars. The New York Post editorial board also described the station when it opened in 2016 as the "world's most obscenely overpriced commuter rail station - and possibly its ugliest", deeming the transit hub a "white elephant" and "monstrosity", comparing the Oculus to a "giant gray-white space insect."

Costs and delays

The building is the world's most expensive transportation hub due to its massive cost for reconstruction-$3.74 billion dollars. There are many critiques because of the building delay for almost 10 years. The price of the station was further driven up by Calatrava's architectural decisions. He wanted to import custom-made steel from a northern Italian factory, which cost $474 million, and have a columnless, aesthetically based design. The line had to be supported on a bridge over the station instead of on columns through the station. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy damaged several hundred million dollars worth of materials.

The hub's skyrocketing costs also attracted much controversy, with an editor at The New York Times saying that "Mr. Calatrava is amassing an unusually long list of projects marred by cost overruns, delays and litigation", referring to other projects around the world designed by Calatrava that have been over-budgeted.

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bostjan, March 4th, 2016
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