Oculus, new World Trade Center station in New York

Nearly fifteen years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the station at One World Trade Center in New York has reopened. The first entrance to the station was opened to the public on Thursday, March 3, 2016. The striking building by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava called Oculus is an expensive eye-catcher, costing almost four billion dollars. This makes the station the most expensive in the world. A quarter of a million commuters and tourists use the station, subway lines and ferry services in New York every day.

Oculus in New York

The construction of the new World Trade Center station in New York took almost fifteen years. The first entrance was opened to the public on Thursday, March 3, 2016. The Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava is responsible for the striking building that has been given the name Oculus and, according to the creator, represents a white bird. With a total cost of four billion dollars, the new station is the most expensive in the world.

New World Trade Center station New York

The World Trade Center station connects the trains of owner PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) with the eleven New York City subway lines and the ferry services on the East River. A quarter of a million commuters and tourists use this every day.
After the opening of the west exit and the Westfield Mall corridor, the metro connection via the Oculus to Fulton Center became a reality two months later, May 26, 2016. The Westfield World Trade Center shopping center opened on August 16, 2016 and at the end of that year, on December 19, the direct underground connection from the New York City Subway to the World Trade Center station became a reality.


Oculus is the Latin word for eye. The name oculus is used, among other things, for the name of a round opening at the top of a dome (for example the Pantheon in Rome), but also for other round, oval or octagonal windows in the facades of old buildings. These types of windows are common in Amsterdam canal houses.


The symbolism in the station building at Ground Zero with its dramatic recent history is incorporated into the roof. A gap in the ridge of the roof allows daylight to reach the platforms between the towers on Fulton Street. Every September 11, the sun shines through this opening at exactly 10:28 am. The time refers to the moment when the last of the two Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001. In this charged location, the new station, a white bird according to the architect, must above all radiate peace.

Architect Santiago Calatrava

The building

The design of the Oculus dates from 2004 and comes from the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The building has a length of 107 meters and a width of 35 meters and consists of steel ribs, glass and marble floors. According to Calatrava, the white building is a white bird rising from a child’s hand and is therefore a monument to the victims of the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero.

The architect

Calatrava graduated from the Institute of Architecture in Valencia and has offices in Paris and New York, among others. He is best known as an architect of buildings and bridges, mainly in Europe and North America, and has now won more than twenty international prizes. The architect is regularly criticized for rising costs and longer construction times, but also for low customer satisfaction.

Increasing costs and later delivery

Initially, the new station was expected to cost two billion dollars and open in 2009. The costs are said to have increased because the architect imposed new requirements during construction and because of the logistical complexity of carrying out the project. Several construction projects were completed simultaneously at the same location . All work took place at the busy intersection of eleven metro lines, which should experience as little inconvenience as possible from all work. The estimated cost of four billion dollars is therefore almost the same as that of the 104-storey One World Trade Center located next to the station, which opened in November 2014. Due to the criticism that the construction of the station in New York took twice as long (twelve instead of six years) and the total costs of the station have become twice as high (four instead of two billion dollars), there is still no festive opening was held.
‘We had an obligation to make something special. We wanted the best, the best quality and a historic building. We really think we’ve succeeded in that.’
Port Authority , owner of the station

Calatrava bridges in Hoofddorp

In the Netherlands, Santiago Calatrava is best known as the architect of the three Calatrava bridges near Hoofddorp, which were officially put into use in 2004. The costs for this controversial project also increased from an initial twenty million to an eventual fifty million euros, after a more solid foundation was found to be necessary. The Li├Ęge station (2009) was also designed by Calatrava and received a fair amount of criticism upon completion.

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