What People Really Think of Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus Transporation Hub

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Visitors captured over several hours on March 11, eight days after the opening of the new station.

Santiago Calatrava’s nearly $4 billion “Oculus” path transportation hub at the World Trade Center complex finally opened on March 3 — seven years after it was supposed to and a couple of billion dollars over budget. New York’s Justin Davidson called it beautiful; the Times’ Michael Kimmelman declared it a boondoggle. But as any visitor to the station could tell you, there are a lot of amateur critics flocking to the site to assess the building for themselves — mostly lying on the marble floor of the main hall and gazing upward.

This might sound morbid, but the beams remind me of bones. ”—Nicole Anderson, mortgage officer

I feel like I am in the belly of something. There’s a haunting quality to the WTC, but in this space I don’t feel haunted. Maybe that’s because it is so white. If it wasn’t white, I think it would feel like you were inside a dead animal.” —Bryn Durgin, writer

All the other stations in New York are so old and dirty. This space gives me that Apple feeling.” —Sophia Ruff, architecture student

I’m not at all impressed with the skin — it looks cheap. It looks rushed. And honey, how are they going to keep it clean? The marble! I am so worried about the marble. And you can’t forget that everyone who will be coming through here is from New Jersey, and they hate New York.” —Aileen Robrish, retired

See that curve? I find that very disturbing. Very disturbing. But this is a magic space! Look, everyone is smiling and having fun. And the lighting is great for old people.” —Barry Robrish, men’s stylist

I read the review that called it a boondoggle, and while that’s a strong word, it was probably appropriate. It’s audacious, but I appreciate that. And it was originally going to be much, much more ​
dramatic — there were limitations because of the finances. That’s architecture in the big city for you. What worries me the most is that this is going to end up essentially a fancy shopping mall. I mean, $4 billion for a fancy shopping mall?” —Jeremy George, full-time dad

Will they have a food court?” —Geoffrey Wiener, city planner                                    

*This article appears in the March 21, 2016 issue of New York Magazine.