The Shape of Things to Come: The World Trade Center Transportation Hub
Since architect Santiago Calatrava first presented his drawings for lower Manhattan’s new Transportation Hub a decade ago, there has been a lot of hubbub about its long-delayed construction and far-exceeded budget, which as of last count was up to a staggering 3.9 billion dollars. But now that much of the preliminary construction dust is starting to settle, the emerging structure promises to soar above it all.
With dozens of commissions completed worldwide, Calatrava’s decidedly curvilinear structures are at once stunningly futuristic and lyrically graceful. His biggest project, The City of Arts and Sciences in his native Valencia, is a completely realized, alternative vision of what our world could look like if we get over the rectilinear constraints inherited from 20th century modernism. Also an engineer, a sculptor and a painter, Calatrava believes that architecture combines all of these arts. Fittingly, in 2003, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art held an exhibition of his artistic and architectural work, cuing the launch of his ambitious proposal for the new transportation hub.
Scheduled for completion in 2015, the hub has already significantly altered the outline of The World Trade Center nexus. The innovative design features 150-foot-high retractable glass-and-steel wings that will allow natural light to pass through a towering oculus to the rail platforms 60 feet below street level. Facilitating mass-transit connections for New York City subway and neighboring New Jersey lines, the hub will accommodate 250,000 commuters daily, and millions of visitors from the world over annually. An 800,000-square-foot multi-story transit hall rivaling the scale of Grand Central Terminal will incorporate lower and balcony-level pedestrian concourses, a public waiting area, retail shops and restaurants. This will be the third largest transportation center in New York City. Along with the opening of the new hub, eight of the architect’s sculptures will be displayed along Park Avenue in the spring of 2015. All in all, looks like New York has an eye-popping New Year to look forward to. Here’s a preview: