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World Trade Centre Transportation Hub

World Trade Centre Transportation Hub (147)

The new World Trade Center has a new metro station designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, whose construction was not without controversy due to the delay in opening and the money spent. Calatrava's Oculus has the honour of being the most expensive underground station in the world. The terminal, which was supposed to cost two billion dollars, ended up costing double that (i.e. four billion dollars), largely because of the use of Italian marble. In fact, the cost even exceeded that of One World Trade Center, and the director of the Port Authority, which owns the land, has described the work as a “symbol of excess”. 

The Oculus, the name Calatrava gave this exuberant building, because of its resemblance to an eye and long eyelashes, is a multimodal platform that provides street-level access to the 9/11 Memorial Museum and features an oval, arched structure 25 metres wide and 106.6 meters long. Of course, the design of Oculus is striking and contrasts with the skyscrapers that surround it, which are mostly tall, narrow towers. With a capacity to withstand up to 200,000 passengers a day, this station connects 11 different metro lines with the train line that links New York to New Jersey. Not only that, but it also provides access to the main underground WTC towers and houses a leisure area with a luxury shopping centre (Westfield World Trade Center) and restaurants. It has therefore strengthened the public transport service in the business district, one of the fastest growing neighbourhoods in the Big Apple in recent years. 

For some, it's a giant eye. For others, however, it's a cathedral, the skeleton of a dinosaur (hence its nickname the Calatravasaurus), or even a dove taking flight in the palm of a child. What is certain is that Calatrava's new structure at Ground Zero has left no one indifferent, and has led to multiple interpretations. But the truth is that the latter interpretation is particularly relevant; the dove's symbolism has helped conceive the station as a symbol of peace and unity, especially if we take into account its location, close to where the twin towers stood and right next to the museum that pays tribute to the victims of 9/11. In the words of Calatrava, “The building is a monument to life: a symbol of the faith in the future of this city”. 

The glass roof is 48.7 metres high and consists of a series of steel and iron arches, in the form of ribs, which flood the interior with light. Given the large size and the light that penetrates the interior, for many this structure evokes a cathedral. They say that Calatrava was inspired by the legendary Grand Central Station, which is also very bright and, incidentally, is still the largest station in New York. This roof structure opens up on warm summer days, and every 11 September, which allows natural light to pass through the large glass dome and reach the platforms located 18 metres below. The intended effect is to create a glimmer of hope that crosses this area of Lower Manhattan on the anniversary of the attacks.

If the construction of the transport interchange was already shrouded in controversy due to its excessive cost, another issue arose: the delay in opening.  The station did not partially open to the public until early March 2016, seven years later than initially planned and following 12 years of construction work. 

Those in charge of the World Trade Center estimate that when the terminal is fully operational it will receive an average of 100,000 users a day and millions of visitors a year.

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