Last edited 13 Oct 2016

The Oculus


The World Trade Center Transportation Hub in Lower Manhattan was officially opened to the public on 4 March 2016, replacing the PATH train station that was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. It provides access to Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) commuter trains to New Jersey and 11 New York City subway lines.

Adjacent to the Ground Zero memorial is the Hub’s centerpiece, the Oculus, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to resemble a dove taking flight. The structure is formed by softly-curving, white, steel ribs that rise from below the ground to form an elliptical dome over a vast concourse. The structure uses 11,500 tons of structural steel, and free from internal columns the concourse reaches a length of 350 ft and a height of 160 ft.

The transparency of the structure allows light to flood through onto the grey and white marble floors below, and a skylight that runs the length of the Oculus’ spine will open each September 11 to honour the memory of the victims.

The structure was built by Skanska for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who estimate the hub will be used daily by 250,000 commuters.

President and CEO of Skanska USA, Rich Cavallaro said, "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."

However, the project has been hit by heavy criticism, both for long delays – construction work began in 2004 – and for becoming the most expensive station in the world, costing the public $3.9bn, $2bn more than originally forecast. The design itself has been compared to a series of giant Nike ‘tick’ logos, and the carcass of a Thanksgiving turkey.

See more of the Unusual Building Design of the Week series.

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The design is certainly unusual however it still looks good. The design concept of Nike ticks is absolutely awesome. It looks like a dragon carcass design from my standpoint instead of a turkey carcass. The meaning of the turkey carcass design concept is brilliant! Symbolic of the thanksgiving in the rebuilding of life after a terrible tragedy.