Thursday, November 6, 2014, by Curbed Staff
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mahadev Rahmen, the Director of the engineering firm Arup Limited, at a panel discussion last week hosted by the New York Transit Museum previewing the new Fulton Center subway station. The station is finally set to open this Monday, November 10th, at 5 p.m., after years of setbacks from issues related to funding, Hurricane Sandy, and systems testing, according to the panel members. When asked for some more explanation of the delays, the panel looked at one another, shook their heads, and seemed to agree upon an unspoken response of “we don’t have all day.”
The new station was conceived back in 2002 in response to the devastation faced by the Financial District on September 11, but the need for station to be improved has existed for decades. “Many New Yorkers remember the ‘spaghetti mess,’” said Vincent Chang, an architect for Grimshaw who worked with Arup to execute the design and the subterranean infrastructure that connects passengers to the 10 subway lines running through the center. “Our goal was to address what it’s like to be on the subway, in an anonymous and alienating space.”
The opening of the oculus, covered by glass, brings in light, thereby reducing the need for electric lighting. It will also act a reservoir for the heat that rises from the subway line spaghetti, reducing the demand for air conditioning. If there were ever a fire in the center, the smoke would rise up in the oculus allowing for relatively safe passage beneath. The sky reflectors, the most traditionally artistic element of the design, are “differently oriented” to the sun, "scattering and recasting’ light down through the aluminum paneled netting of the oculus, according to Carpenter. “The reflectors could actually act as a time telling device,” said Carpenter. With the artistic element of the new center representing 1 to 2 percent of the overall construction budget of $1.4 billion, Carpenter may have also designed the most expensive and least practical clock ever.