It’s not easy to create a powerful structure on such an emotionally charged location as the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center towers, but architect Santiago Calatrava brilliantly stepped up to the challenge. That said, it was not without intense challenges and controversy. The Oculus was completed seven years behind schedule and went aggressively over the original budget, costing close to $4 billion dollars. Many of problems were apparently due to owner hold-ups and changes. Now that it has been completed 14 years later the design has critical acclaim, however the overall functionality as a transportation hub (passenger flow and comfort) remains an ongoing challenge.
New York and the tragedy inspired Calatrava to create something extraordinary. His vision was a winged dove, an organic form that holds its own and almost floats among the complexity of many straight lined towers as well as the two square shaped memorial fountains surrounding it. Its overall message is one of hope.
The Oculus building functions as a portal to a transportation center as well as a premier mall (Westfield World Trade Center) and dining destination. It holds a variety of wonderful shops including an Apple Store and connects to the massive Eataly-- a mecca of everything Italian. It also has an underground passage to Brookfield Place, another large high end mall in the area. The station connects the PATH (which connects New York and New Jersey) with the New York City Subway system as well as further connecting Fulton Center and the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal.
The design of the building curves out like wings of a bird and holds a long skylight that runs the length of the building. The skylight is opened on or around September 11th every year. Also as a memorial to September 11th, a powerful and stunning memorial, the Tribute in Light is presented once a year, as a reflection of the twin towers that once existed. It is now an iconic symbol that celebrates the unrelenting spirit of New York.