Diane Siskin: Soaring Sights

Friday, September 9, 2016 - by Diane Siskin
The Oculus, located between Church and Greenwich Streets, is next to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
The Oculus, located between Church and Greenwich Streets, is next to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- photo by Diane Siskin

This Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the new Westfield World Trade Center shopping mall will be the site of a solemn ceremony

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At Ground Zero in New York City on sacred land there is now a mixed use facility which has been dubbed “The Consumer Cathedral.”

It has been labeled this because the Westfield World Trade Center’s interior design resembles a soaring cathedral with wide open space surrounded on its circumference with shops.

Under the beautiful marble floors a subway will soon run again.

This building was built as a transportation hub for the city’s subway system. But one level up in the Oculus there is a grand shopping mall with two Apple stores and high-end designer shops and restaurants.

Outdoors and above ground this new development appears as two large white wings which were created with steel-and-glass shells. It is this exterior design which appears as a soaring bird.

Designed by world-famous architect Santiago Calatrava, this “otherworldly” facility is actually grounded and revolves around the large open interior which makes the shopping mall an Oculus.

In architecture, such an area design is left open to the elements. Here skylights can be open to permit sunlight and even “raindrops and snowflakes.”

When we visited last week on Labor Day, the Oculus was filled with visitors. Besides tourists, many New Yorkers had chosen that day to take their families to see the space and just view the shops. Young children ran through the vast expanse. Riding the escalators between levels also seemed to provide great entertainment.

The Oculus was built by the New York Port Authority and it is said to have cost more than $480 million. The budget for the entire transportation hub was $4 billion. The shopping mall opened in August with 60 shops, with more to come. But the PATH subway stations, which will be located at ends of the hall still haven’t opened. The interior of the Oculus resembles a giant train station.

The entire site is a sight to behold. 

The Oculus with its vast white marble floor is enticing to mall walking.
The Oculus with its vast white marble floor is enticing to mall walking.
- Photo2 by Diane Siskin

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