[Photo by Ed Kiley]
The Financial District should be seeing extra traffic today because the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, also called the Oculus, has officially opened. The Port Authority previously denied any ceremonious debut, but according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, they have changed their mind and are planning an event to honor the occasion later this spring.
The Oculus, not to be confused by the Chelsea condo of the same name, was designed by the treasured and debased architect Santiago Calatrava with a lambasted price tag of $4 billion. It was originally scheduled to open in 2007, but Calatrava’s staunch dedication to produce only the most elegant, ambitious product inevitably raised costs and lengthened construction time. Calatrava and his team strived to deliver a statement piece that would honor the victims of 9/11, encaptured in the marble-ribbed frame resembling an urban bird in flight, a stark white Phoenix rising from the ashes of tragedy, of contempt.
As of today, the WTC Hub is probably only 50% open, since much of it remains under construction. In a press release, the Port Authority stated that the “March 3 opening will provide the 100,000 riders that use the PATH facility daily with below-ground, climate-controlled access to a new entrance at the corner of Liberty and Church streets, a few blocks from Wall Street.” Subsequent entrances are expected to open throughout the spring. Although the Mall at the World Trade Center is not open, retail lease holder, the Westfield Group, “plans to open the stores as a collection in August;” the 125 tenants will include “H&M, Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret, Kate Spade and Daniel Boulud.”
More details on the spring ceremony will be revealed in the coming weeks. For now, commuters and visitors can explore the confines of the Oculus and reflect on its significance. During a tour of the transit hub yesterday, Calatrava told reporters: “It is a sign of reconstruction, recovery, and even peace.” Whether you breathe in the vastness of its structure, the vastness of its cost, or the vastness of its meaning, its symbolism cannot be denied.