It’s been six years since the start of construction, and the World Trade Center PATH station’s signature aboveground structure has been topped out, so to speak, and taken its final shape. Most of its asymmetrical wings appear to be in place, giving pedestrians a sense of the hub’s proportions, although final finishes remain elusive.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey hired Santiago Calatrava to design the station, the most architecturally ambitious piece of the World Trade Center complex. The design is no doubt striking, perhaps it will be beautiful. But the cost of the PATH station is nearly $4 billion, making it the most expensive train station in history. The Spanish architect has fallen from grace in Europe, tarnished by cost overruns and lawsuits on his large public works projects, but the World Trade Center PATH station is his most expensive folly, enabled by the PA’s bureaucratic incompetence.
The animalistic sculpture that crowns the station, wedged between what will some day be two office towers (only one seems likely soon), is the most striking part of the project from the street, but the real work (and money) was downstairs. The bulk of the spending was for the below ground elements, which include a grand, column-free concourse for the PATH terminal, along with Manhattan’s largest shopping mall, with 365,000-square feet of Calatrava-designed retail space.
You can get a sneak peak of what this subterranean space will look like by taking a stroll down the world’s most expensive hallway, the pedestrian passageway that leads from the temporary PATH station to Brookfield Place (formerly the World Financial Center). The cavernous white space leading to Brookfield’s complex has finishes similar to what the rest of the Calatrava-designed underground complex will have, offering a $225 million peek at what the rest of the $4 billion project will look like.
The project is scheduled to open in January 2015.
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