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Is WTC's Transit Hub 'The Grandest' Or Even 'Worth It' At All?

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Both the Times and the Post checked out the Santiago Calatrava's under-construction, $4-billion, flying-bird-inspired transportation hub at the World Trade Center yesterday. Both outlets came away with drastically different takes on the Port Authority project?why are we not surprised? While optimist David Dunlap of the NYT holds out hope that, despite its price tag, the station's design?especially that of the massive, swooping main hall?can "lift hearts" and even "become a destination in its own right," the rather curmudgeonly Steve Cuozzo of the NYP takes up the torch of the nay-sayers, making much of the center's exorbitant cost and the fact that it also complicated the construction of the three skyscrapers and memorial above. Concludes the cynic: "And how many will use it? More than 250,000 daily, PA construction chief Steve Plate said yesterday. Skeptics say as few as 50,000, mostly Jersey commuters. The project adds no new track, only endless underground corridors for walking from here to there. Isn't that what city streets are for?" It may be hard to asses the impact and import of the finished product, given that the transit hub looks like the photo above and that there are two years' worth of construction left to go, but that's not stopping these archicritics from speculating.

Cuozzo does, in fact, concede that the oval main hall, with its "365-foot-long floor, an arched, 160-foot-high ceiling and framed by exterior 'wings' rising to 250 feet" "is undeniably an astonishing?perhaps heroic?feat of architectural engineering." (He just doesn't like the snaking tunnels that lead Jersey-bound PATH commuters to their trains.) The impressive main hall, which will have a roof when this is all over, is longer than Grand Central's main concourse and just slightly narrower. "In the end,' Dunlap writes, "that may be the most astonishing feature of the hub; that a structure of such colossal proportions should be devoted to unobstructed public use."

Here's what we have to look forward to by 2015:

· A Transit Hub in the Making May Prove to Be the Grandest [NYT]
· 'Hub'-bub: World Trade Center Transportation Hub is a sight to behold — but how functional is it? [NYP]
· WTC Transportation Hub archive [Curbed]
· All World Trade Center Redevelopment coverage [Curbed]