Oculus World Trade Center

The Oculus World Trade Center mall in lower Manhattan was built on the fallen World Trade Center site by world-renowned architect Santiago Calatrava.

Santiago Calatrava presented his World Trade Center Transportation Center design in January 2004.

The realization of the building at street level, an independent structure along the Wedge of Light Square, was one of the first decisions that Calatrava had in mind when conceiving the project.

“Oculus,” the Transportation Center’s centerpiece that introduces the new station to the world, is a kind of pause amid the thick glass and steel towers surrounding it.

Due to constant delays, the construction took 12 years and was finally inaugurated on 3 March 2016, with few celebrations.

The cost of its construction, $4 billion, far exceeded its original cost, making it the most expensive train station in the world.

It is the third largest transportation center in New York, after Grand Central and Penn Station, both in Midtown Manhattan.

It is visited by 300,000 people every day and up to a million on special occasions.

Construction was delayed in its early stages due to disagreements over cost, safety, and design. 

Hurricane Sandy flooded the site in 2012, requiring the pumping of millions of liters of water in a matter of days.

Other events, such as the discovery of the wreckage of an 18th-century ship, were even more unexpected.

Oculus World Trade Center Hours

Oculus World Trade Center hours
Image: Archdaily.com

The Opening Hours of Oculus World Trade Center from Monday to Saturday are 10 pm to 7 pm.

On Sunday, it closes one hour early, that is 6 pm.

Oculus World Trade Center Location

The World Trade Center Transportation Center in Lower Manhattan, New York, replaced the PATH train station destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

Oculus World Trade Center Address: 185 Greenwich St LL3110, New York, NY 10006. Get Directions

It connects to the Port Authority’s Trans-Hudson suburban trains (PATH) to New Jersey and 11 subway lines in New York City.

It was constructed east of the World Trade Center’s missing Twin Towers.

The station serves commuter trains and connects to the city’s underground trains.

It also has interior pedestrian access to Brookfield Place, towers 1, 2, 3, and 4.

It also has the new transportation complex and Fulton Street Transit Center trade, located at the intersection of Fulton St and Broadway.

The Concept

The Concept
Image: Arch2o.com

Its spectacular form evokes motifs from many traditions, such as the Byzantine mandorla, the cherub wings on the Ark of the Covenant, or the protective wings on the canopy of Egyptian urns.

The form can be summarized as the image of a bird freed from the hands of a child, according to Santiago Calatrava.

The structure is intended to light up the underground train station and shopping center, which opened in March 2016.

It blurs the distinction between a railway station, a shopping center, and a pedestrian tunnel.

The ample space created in its elegant and modern interior, with its shops and restaurants, quickly became a draw in Lower Manhattan for commuters and the general public.


Oculus World Trade Center space
Image: Businesswire.com

The terminal’s design incorporates fully integrated hallways, mezzanines, and platforms with controlled climate, high-performance lighting, and elegant finishes.

The arches formed by the pillars on the east and west sides of the Oculus provide access to the building from Church and Greenwich streets.

The escalators and elevators provide access to the upper and lower levels. 

The entrance stairs’ breaks at the ends form a cantilever over the sizable central space known as Transit Hall.

The Transit Hall, which has several floors, was designed in the style of a large central terminal and included the following:

  • A lower lobby.
  • An upper lobby with a balcony.
  • A public waiting area.
  • Retail services.

This lobby is approximately 10 meters below street level and 49 meters below the operable skylight’s apex.

The elliptical column-free space is 107 meters long and 35 meters wide at its widest point.

The “Oculus” in the station’s upper part, in the center of the “wings,” is a retractable skylight that, in addition to lighting naturally, reaffirms the Central de Transport’s distinctive appearance. 

The entrance hall provides space for various types of shops and restaurants and fluid circulation for the estimated 250,000 passengers who use the station daily.

You can combine your visit to the Oculus Center with the 9/11 Memorial by purchasing the 9/11 Memorial Tickets.


Image: Nydailynews.com

A network of underground pedestrian connections provides easy access.

They connect with New York City subway stations, the MTA transit center on Fulton St., places inside and outside the WTC, monuments, museums, Hudson Ferry terminals, trains, 13 subway lines, and the train to JFK airport via the Lower and Upper corridors.

The Oculus hallways’ access to the WTC subway station is marked by an oblong, curved opening with glass panels and organic and fluid lines that echo the rest of the station.

The combination of natural light and sculptural form gives dignity and beauty to the building’s lower levels and pedestrian walkways, providing New York City with a public space unlike before.

The Oculus Center NYC Structure

Oculus Center NYC Structure
Image: Inhabitat.com

The steel beams were modularly repeated to create the complex structure. 

Natural light penetrates this sculptural and luminous structure, which, for the architect Calatrava, becomes a structural element of the project, poetically defining the building as “supported by columns of light.”


The station’s frame and structure are located above a containment box.

After the first excavation stage, the crews poured a concrete slab and wall sections about 4 meters below the subway box.

Workers continued digging beneath the slab while temporary reinforcements were installed. The teams met with granite and quartz in the final section.

To maintain stability, excavation of 305 meters must be done in alternate sections of 15 meters.

The lower slab and wall sections were poured at about 15 meters.

They then poured a thick final slab directly beneath the subway box.

Finally, the subway box was installed on that slab, the temporary piles were removed, and the resulting concrete box now supports the subway.

Structure Explanation

Structure explanation
Image: Nytimes.com

Oculus comprises smoothly curved steel ribs painted white and combined with glass to form a giant elliptical shape.

This rises from the ground to form the dome over the lobby– free of internal columns.

The ribs extend to create two viewpoints over the plaza’s northern and southern halves.

The beams are formed by two 107 meters arches that flank the project’s central axis.

A 100 meters operable skylight among the arches frames a portion of the New York sky and opens on mild days or annually on 11 September.

The Oculus World Trade Center allows natural light to enter the WTC Transportation Center, filtering through all levels from the main lobby.

It is nearly 60 meters high and has limited columns to the train platform PATH, approximately 18 meters below the street.

The illuminated building serves as a lantern for your neighborhood at night. Skanska built the structure for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Activities at the Oculus

The Oculus is the official name of the building that houses Westfield Shops and Dining.

Westfield Shops and Dining at the Oculus is open from 10 am to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 11 am to 6 pm on Sunday.


Image: Facebook.com/westfieldworldtradecenter

The Oculus is a fantastic shopping destination, with different stores on the main, upper, and lower levels.

While it isn’t the largest shopping mall in New York, there are plenty of stores to keep you busy, including Kate Spade, H&M, Cole Haan, and others.

You can walk to Brookfield Place via underground pedestrian walkways, which have even more shops and stunning views of the Hudson River.

Events Happening at the Oculus 

Events happening at the Oculus 
Image: Facebook.com/westfieldworldtradecenter

From April to October, the Beer Garden serves food and drinks.

Smorgasburg, New York’s iconic food market, sets up 20 food stalls outside along the Oculus’ North Plaza every Friday from May to October.

A green market that locally sells produced goods from the region is also held on the North Plaza every Tuesday from 8 am to 5 pm from June to October.

Strawberries, cider, vegetables, baked goods, and even handcrafted potato vodka can be found. 

The North Plaza has a unique open space where live music or dancing performances occasionally occur.

In the summer, there are even yoga classes!

Facts About the Oculus World Trade Center 

Here are some interesting facts about the World Trade Center Oculus.

The Hope Concept

Hope Concept
Image: Facebook.com/westfieldworldtradecenter

The structure depicts a bird about to take flight from the hands of a young boy to demonstrate that no matter what obstacles the city faces, it will always be hopeful. 

The form is based on a mother and child model created by the architect 15 years before the project’s completion.

Surroundings and Neighbourhood

The Oculus NYC’s location is unique and significant in and of itself due to its association with the country’s worst terrorist attack in history. 

It is near the newly constructed Freedom Tower, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, and the well-known Hudson River.

Timeline of the Project

Image: Classicnewyorkhistory.com

The work to rebuild The Oculus NYC began immediately after the 9/11 attacks. 

Still, the project took 14 years to complete and opened in February of 2016, seven years behind schedule, which the architect explains was his idea to use this time to build it for the city’s new generation.

The Transportation Heist

Over 580 pieces, some of which were over 30 meters long, proved challenging to transport from the workshop to the construction site.

The distance was a 7-mile in the dense urban area of lower Manhattan, which kept the workers busy for many years and cost $3 million.

Twin Cranes Breaking Records

With a height of 185 feet, the cranes used in constructing the Oculus Center and responsible for lifting heavy components were some of the largest cranes ever used in the city.

Beautiful Light Play

Light is an essential factor in any built structure, and the architect claims that the structure receives the same amount of sunlight as a person walking down the street in front of it. 

At night, it appears to be a lantern charged with illuminating the city.

History’s Passage

In 2013, an impressive hallway of the Hub was opened to the public.  

On its right wall is a plaque displaying the agreement signed to protect and preserve the remnants of the Hudson River Bulkhead and the Slurry Wall.

The Thickness is Less Than That of an iPhone.

The steel thickness could not be off by 1/8th of an inch to ensure the building’s structural integrity, so the steel had to be designed specifically for this structure.

Of the 365,000 square feet total, 225,000 square feet will be devoted to retail and restaurant space.

Featured Image: Archdaily.com