A set of delicate, rib-like columns was recently roofed over in the World Trade Center pit in downtown Manhattan. They are the first visible elements of the new transportation hub, the celebrated $3.2 billion work of architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. You won’t see the dramatic winged entrance hall until at least 2012…

There have been cuts to the project. The iconic wings above the station entrance have been clipped and they will not majestically flap up and down. Skylights over the train platforms have been eliminated. Still, one question is inevitable: How can the project possibly cost $3.2 billion?

“The station itself is a fraction of this cost,” said Calatrava…“I have designed stations in Zurich, Lisbon, and Lyons,” Calatrava said. “And this is the most complex I have done…”

Calatrava explained that the most expensive work at Ground Zero is underground and largely invisible: “It was a challenge to make a building that is secure yet very generous.”


James S. Russell