Oculus 1Out of the ashes of 9/11 in lower Manhattan rises new hope in a massive $4 billion transportation hub with the aboveground shape of a winged dove. Since opening last week, the Oculus – New York’s World Trade Center Train Station – becomes the 3rd largest train station in New York City and the most expensive train station in the world.

Designed by Santiago Calatrava, Spanish/Swiss architect, structural engineer, sculptor and painter, the white steel railing and symmetrical curves are his signature design also used for the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro, and the train station in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

At the Oculus, the steel ribs of the structure reach outward to form an elliptical dome, while the spine of the core building is a large glass retractable skylight designed to open on temperate days in New York and on every September 11th in memoriam for those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks at that place and on that day in 2001.

Oculus 2Having over 800,000 square feet within the structure, the Oculus, with its soaring stark white wings, is a sharp contrast to the surrounding dark skyscrapers of the downtown Financial District.

Some critics have blasted the hub for not only its massive cost overruns, but also for its lack of inclusion of any train station amenities and necessities like clocks, maps or even ticket machines. Others criticize the gargantuan wings that provide little function while consuming gigantic costs. Yet more criticize the soaring waste of interior and exterior air space.

Oculus 3The Oculus connects the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system and New York City’s 1, A, C, and R subway lines. Presently, just the main floor is open to the public, but the NY Port Authority predicts that this transportation hub will serve 250,000 daily commuters in the tri-state area.

Some people will love the design of the Oculus; some will hate it. But their reasons for either approval or disdain will remain subjective and supplementary to the structure’s function – which has yet to be experienced. Good, bad, functional or not, the Oculus is bound to leave a lasting impression.

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