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Old Posted May 9, 2009, 4:01 AM
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Architect Calatrava calls transit hub a challenge
Renowned architect seeks to honor memory of those who perished at WTC.

By Theresa Agovino
May 8, 2009

Renowned architect Santiago Calatrava said that overcoming the physical challenges involved in designing the transit hub at the World Trade Center site has been the most difficult endeavor of his 28-year career but that being a part of the project has been a privilege

“It has been very difficult, very challenging,” said the Spanish-born architect. “I’m honored to be a part of the whole process.”

Mr. Calatrava said that devising the plan for the hub, a glass and steel structure which resembles a dove, was extraordinarily complex because trains will keep running through the area during construction.

“That is difficult to work around,” he said, adding that the relatively small size of the WTC site creates a formidable landscape for construction.

On an emotional level, Mr. Calatrava says the project presented an entirely different kind of test. “Everyone has a memory of Sept 11 and what it means,” he said, noting that people come to the site with very different expectations. He also said while designing the structure he was always aware that his client, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, lost numerous employees in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and wanted to insure his vision would honor their memory. The Port lost 84 employees that day.

Last year, Mr. Calatrava had to revise the hub’s design because it was running over budget and behind schedule. However, the architect downplayed the changes, saying the hub is the seventh station he’s designed and such shifts are a normal part of the process. Even with the changes, the hub’s budget ballooned to $3.2 billion from $2 billion originally. It’s now slated to be completed by the end of 2013 at the earliest, instead of 2011.

Mr. Calatrava declined to comment on the stalemate between the Port and developer Larry Silverstein, who is planning three office towers on the site, which could delay construction.

“I am just a simple architect,” he said.

An exhibition featuring a model of the transit hub, Mr. Calatrava’s sketches of the project and a video will run at the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute from Saturday, May 8 to Monday, Aug 13. The exhibit will showcase how the hub’s design evolved as well as some of Mr. Calatrava’s other projects.
NEW YORK heals.

“Office buildings are our factories – whether for tech, creative or traditional industries we must continue to grow our modern factories to create new jobs,” said United States Senator Chuck Schumer.
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