New York, NY: The world’s most expensive train station opened Thursday in New York, nearly $2 billion over budget and years behind schedule, but the European architect who designed it called it a gift of love to the city.
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub, which is expected eventually to serve more than 200,000 commuters daily, is built next to the site of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
Twelve years in the making, there was no official ceremony to mark the opening to rail commuters of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub next to the site of the Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the Al-Qaeda hijackings.
The building, designed by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava and called Oculus, is a giant oval made up of steel ribs and glass laid out in elliptical shape, reaching for the sky like wings of a bird. Calatrava said he hoped America’s financial and entertainment capital would enjoy a building that he hoped would become a “big civic monument like Grand Central” — one of New York’s most beloved landmarks.
“This is a great moment. This is a gift for all New Yorkers,” Calatrava said of the opening to rail commuters. “I hope the New Yorkers embrace it like we do and that they see the message of love to them,” he added.
The building has an elliptical shape, reaching for the sky like the wings of a bird. The space measures 350 feet (107 meters) long by 115 feet (35 meters) at its widest point, according to Calatrava’s website.
The building has become a major source of controversy — for its daring aesthetic, for spiraling drastically off budget and for closing seven years behind schedule. The center connects the PATH commuter rail to New Jersey with New York subway lines, provides indoor pedestrian access to the Trade Center towers and will also house an enormous shopping and restaurant plaza.
It was only a partial opening and the shops are slated to open in August. In the 12 years since the project was unveiled, it has been heavily criticized not just for its appearance but also for spiraling so drastically off budget and closing seven years behind schedule.
Initially budgeted at $2 billion, it has spiraled to $3.85 billion according to a spokesperson in Calatrava’s office, which would make it the most expensive station in the world. In contrast, the temporary station which was built straight after the September 11, 2001 attacks cost just $323 million.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey admitted in a report published in 2008 that the original cost estimate was “too low to begin with” but stressed the advantages it would afford the city. It said that when completed, the transit hub will serve 250,000 people and more than 200,000 commuters each day, making it the third-largest transportation center in the city.