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Calatrava terminal not quite dead yet

by Benjamin Kabak

While last week I noted that the Santiago Calatrava-designed World Trade Center transportation hub may be on the chopping block, the Port Authority isn’t quite ready to give up on their ambitious plans for the downtown station. With two weeks left until he must make a series of recommendations on the PA’s downtown plans, Christopher Ward, the PA executive director, must figure out if the agency can build the Calatrava design, as The Times put it, “constructed timely and economically.”

Considering the economy and state of transit funding in the region, the odds do not favor the Port Authority or Calatrava right now. I hope, however, that the PA pushes for this plan anyway. The last thing we need is some Penn Station monstrosity anchoring the planned downtown revival. The Calatrave project is ambitious, visually appealing and functional. In other words, it’s everything the New York City transit architecture world is missing, and to lose it now would be a shame.

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4 comments

Marc Shepherd September 18, 2008 - 2:47 pm

From the beginning, the Calatrava station struck me as an extravagance—and that was when the purported cost was “only” $2 billion, and the economy wasn’t in the tank. Don’t get me wrong, the design was gorgeous. I just wondered whether something quite that elaborate was justified for a 5-track loop station.

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Judge September 18, 2008 - 6:18 pm

Yeah, the station proposal was always way out of proportion to PATH’s function. Still, I long to see grand public infrastructure, something that can inspire and make us proud. Now if they were also to make a new LIRR and NJT terminal on a lower level on the other hand…

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Alon Levy September 19, 2008 - 9:04 am

When I hear talk of grand public infrastructure, my first thought is Ceausescu’s palace in Romania. The point of infrastructure is to support an economy, not to provide public works for architects.

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Mike Metzger September 20, 2008 - 12:14 pm

Grand Public Infrastructure doesn’t just provide a showcase for architects. It helps make transit something that people want to use rather than just a neccesary evil. Compare Grand Central to Penn Station. No one wants to use Penn, but they do because they have to. On the other hand, Grand Central is an amazing station that the public can enjoy using.

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