Bad News for Both of Santiago Calatrava's Lower-Manhattan Projects

Santiago Calatrava
Photo: Getty Images

Starchitect Santiago Calatrava is having a bad April. Today's papers carry two notes of bad tidings for the genius Spaniard, who until recently was expected to bring a lot of architectural excitement to lower Manhattan. First, we learn that his "Sky Cubes" tower, the ginormous (and ginormously expensive) stack of glass boxes that was supposed to rise up near the South Street Seaport is finally dead. The project, which was expected to be the priciest residential tower in the city (at an estimated $35 million per box, er, apartment), was going to be an eye-catching folly on the downtown landscape. We also learn today that Calatrava's gorgeous transit hub at the World Trade Center is even more underfunded and behind schedule than we thought — requiring more cutbacks and simplifications. No longer will daylight extend underground to the lowest train tracks, to cheer thousands of commuters. Instead, they will have to wait potentially until 2013 (or, probably, even later) for the new station to be ready. We were originally told it would be done by 2006. Yipes. The fuddy-duddies at the Daily News are already calling for a simplification of Calatrava's already-reduced plans, placing the blame on overambitious design rather than bureaucratic blunders. Come on, guys. Pretty soon the iconic dove-wing design of the transit hub will be reduced to a pigeon's scale. And the last thing we need downtown is another pigeon.

'SKY CUBES' MELTDOWN [NYP]
Ground Zero transit center faces big delays, budget-busting overruns [NYDN]
Bust This Boondoggle [NYDN]