The fate of arguably one of the city’s most important projects in recent history hangs in the balance. The World Trade Center Transportation Hub is over budget, behind schedule, & most importantly faces an identity crisis on how it should look. The task of figuring out these issues & then some fall in the lap of Port Authority Executive Director Christopher O. Ward. David W. Dunlap of the New York Times’ City Room Blog looks at this entire situation in this report
With two weeks to go before he must make more than a dozen recommendations on how to get ground zero rebuilding on schedule and on budget, the executive director of the Port Authority said on Tuesday that he had not yet solved the linchpin problem: how to build the underground mezzanine of the World Trade Center Transportation Hub.
The executive director, Christopher O. Ward, told the commissioners of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey that he was still confident he would meet the Sept. 29 deadline for delivery of his report. But Mr. Ward, who can be disarmingly candid, acknowledged that his own deadline for setting deadlines had been perhaps “overly ambitious.”
What makes the mezzanine so critical is that its schedule dictates the schedule of the memorial, because one large corner of the memorial plaza is directly above the mezzanine. Construction of the mezzanine also affects the completion of Greenwich Street, which runs in front of the three office towers planned by Silverstein Properties.
Santiago Calatrava, the architect of the transportation hub, has called for a mezzanine with uninterrupted space, depending on long-span arches and cantilevers to avoid the use of columns. A second proposal, from a working group led by a Silverstein Properties executive, proposes standard column-and-beam construction and the insertion of another floor within the space. A third proposal, developed in-house by the Port Authority, would retain some of the spaciousness of the mezzanine, but also use columns and beams.
The key question is whether Mr. Calatrava’s seemingly exotic design can be constructed timely and economically.
Click here for the complete report.
In an earlier point I wrestled back & forth on what was more important in terms of getting the project done with a minimal design or going all out to represent the importance of this project. I ended up siding with the importance of getting the project done over taking longer & spending more on a more complex design.
I find it downright hypocritical that many riders & transit advocates desire to see the design by Mr. Calatrava’s used yet they are the same ones preaching at how times are tough financially. You can’t play both sides & expect not to be called out for it. The economy from the MTA to the city & state itself is in bad shape. Can we really justify the extra time & money spent for this project?
The answer is clearly no & this attitude of NYC needing some sort of architectural masterpiece for the world to fawn over is beyond ridiculous. This is not the time to play a game of showmanship when we have better ways & time to spend what limited resources we have. To say that this project is something that our transit infrastructure needs is without merit or in better terms shows a clear lack of financial judgment. A responder to the New York Times’ City Room Blog entry named Jonathan Katz said it best:
Get rid of the fancy architects. Just hire competent engineers and let them design and build it so that it performs its essential functions of moving people safely and conveniently, at the lowest cost possible.
He is right with this thinking as no matter what fancy name or design you have in mind, it is still just a “transportation hub”. Don’t let the masses try to spin this from what it really is….
xoxo Transit Blogger