In 2004, santiago calatrava unveiled his design for the world trade center transportation hub: a permanent facility for lower manhattan, located immediately to the east of where the twin towers once stood. now, over ten years later, the vast project is welcoming its first commuters. the scheme, which reportedly cost almost $4 billion USD to complete, replaces the original PATH rail system that was destroyed on september 11th, 2001. the building connects to new york city subway trains as well as the new fulton street transit center. indoor pedestrian access is also provided to brookfield place — an adjacent retail and office complex — as well as WTC towers 1, 2, 3, and 4.
The centerpiece of the development is the ‘oculus’ — an elliptical free-standing structure. Comprised of steel ribs and glass, the centerpiece of the development is the ‘oculus’ — an elliptical free-standing structure designed to evoke the image of a bird being released from a child’s hands. ribs extend to create two canopies over the north and south portions of the plaza. rafters spring from two 350 foot arches, between which, an operable skylight frames a sliver of the new york sky. this elongated aperture opens on temperate days, as well as annually to mark the anniversary of september 11th. the space allows natural daylight to fill the hub, filtering down towards the PATH train platform 60 feet below the street.
Ribs extend to create two canopies over the north and south portions of the plaza. Access inside the building is gained from church and greenwich streets, while entry stair landings cantilever over the large below grade piazza called ‘the transit hall’. escalators, elevators and stairs provide access to the upper and lower retail concourse levels. the lower of which is approximately 34 feet (10 meters) below street level, and 160 feet (49 meters) below the apex of the operable skylight. the column-free elliptical space measures 350 feet (107 meters) — roughly the same length as a soccer field.
West of the subway — 8 feet (2.4 meters) below the lower concourse — is the PATH hall, an area which provides ticketing, fare control and other services for access to PATH trains. similar to the transit hall and the oculus, this area of the design is defined by a series of parallel steel ribs that provide an undulating ceiling plane. the resultant column-free spans facilitate comfort, orientation and enhanced security. meanwhile, openings in the floor provide a spatial connection between the platforms and the ceiling of the PATH hall.
Trains have been using the hub since may 2015, but many areas of the project have remained inaccessible to commuters. the scheme aims to be fully operational by the end of 2016.
Photography by Imagen Subliminal