WTC Transportation Hub skylight to open up every year on September 11 as tribute to victims

Nicole Jewell

Famed architect Santiago Calatrava‘s World Trade Center Oculus Transportation Hub is woefully behind schedule, but it finally looks like there is a light at the end of the insanely expensive, white marble-lined tunnel. Despite a chain of hiccups, the $3.9 billion rail, subway and shopping hub is said to be nearing completion – but the final result will be a bit different from the original design. Although the Spanish architect’s vision of having a structure that can pivot open completely was nixed early on, the hub will have a skylight that retracts for a somewhat similar effect. And according to Calatrava himself, the roof will open up every year on September 11th as a tribute to the New Yorkers who perished in the 9/11 attacks.

The Transportation Hub. photo by Mike Chino

The Transportation Hub. photo by Mike Chino

Although the architect’s 2004 design of the bird-like transport hub was glorious, the practical minds at the Port Authority eliminated some of the building’s impressive moving features from the plans in 2008. However, the final version of the Oculus will indeed have a 355-foot-long operable skylight comprised of 40 movable, blast-resistant glass panels that will retract into pockets in the roof.

According to an announcement by Erica Dumas, a spokeswoman for the NYC Port Authority, the skylight will be opened each September 11th for 102 minutes as a symbolic tribute to the 2,753 [sic – 2,973; 2,749 in NYC] people who were killed in the 9/11 attacks. The opening will coincide with the timing of the tragedy, which began when the first hijacked jetliner hit the Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. until 10:28 a.m., when the second tower collapsed.

“In all weather conditions, the public will experience a subtle sense of man’s vulnerability, while maintaining a link to a higher order,” Mr. Calatrava said of the planned annual remembrance.

“The memory of the victims will be honored and explicitly expressed through the most symbolic and significant element of the project,” he continued, “allowing people to spontaneously gather with a sense of transcendence and elevation.”

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