Architecture critic Martin Filler eviscerates the World Trade Centre development in NYC in this long and worthwhile article from the New York Review of Books; readers who care only somewhat about Manhattan will still enjoy the Battle Royal between architects, developers, politicians and, indeed, critics.


Filler reviews three books on the subject, and at one point quotes Lynne Sagalyn: “This was not city building. Architecture may be art and city building calls for art-like understanding of the fabric of a place, but a city is not a blank canvas to paint at will…”

Filler has never been a fan of Santiago Calatrava: “The most architecturally ambitious portion of the ensemble, Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub (commonly called the Oculus), opened to the public in March 2016, though with no fanfare whatever, doubtless to avoid drawing further attention to this stupendous waste of public funds. The job took twelve years to finish instead of the five originally promised, and part of its exorbitant $4 billion price will be paid by commuters in the form of higher transit fares. The fortune spent on this kitschy jeu d’esprit—nearly twice its already unconscionable initial estimate of $2.2 billion—is even more outrageous for a facility that serves only 40,000 commuters on an average weekday, as opposed to the 750,000 who pass through Grand Central Terminal daily. Astoundingly, the Transportation Hub wound up costing $1 billion more than One World Trade Center itself.”

Is there a cautionary tale here for Vancouver and the nascent plan to redo the downtown waterfront, including expanding Waterfront Station into a larger, more effective transit hub?