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Behold! The Raptor has landed! Hail Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Hub, with its grand opening this month. Starchitecture’s latest bowling trophy is less huge (yuge-uh!) than it looks. Check out the scale of construction vehicles at it’s beak end (or is that cloaca?) Cost $4-plus billion. It is not, by the way, New York City’s main train station. That distinction is shared by the enduringly grand Grand Central Station and the subterranean latrine known as Penn Station. This new “hub” is just an entrance to the Jersey-bound PATH trains and a bunch of converging subway lines that boil down to it being the city’s “18th-busiest subway stop” (NY Times) – which isn’t saying a whole lot. No doubt the project was cooked up in the same spirit of paranoid jingo-narcissism as the grandiose POS known as “Freedom Tower” put up in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to provide a fresh target for the aggrieved peoples of the world.  Below is the acclaimed interior, dubbed “the Occulus” — a reference to the skylight on the raptor’s curved spine. The result is a sterile, boring, vacant chamber (soon to grow dingy) for Wall Streeters to throw parties (a.k.a. an “event space.”) Remember: history is a prankster. With the banking / finance system heading south this year, and the political parties blowing up, and the USA heading into a terra incognita of social disorder, imagine how the raging 99-percenters will treat the partying Wall Streeters in their event space. Duck and cover, Goldman Sachsers!

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

12 Responses to “March 2016”

  1. jayrome March 4, 2016 at 3:33 pm #

    Wowie Zowie Santiago!
    Quite the sculpture you designed with a similar amazing flair for the dramatic as in Milwaukee Museum of Art. I have got to say they are breath taking to be inside too.
    The question arises will it weather well, since we all know that Nature will always concentrate on the flaws, whatever they may have over-looked or cheated on to save costs. Modern materials lend themselves for ease of production at a reasonable cost, but is still in the category of the ephemeral: Short term thinking like everything else in our society.
    Will it still be there in a hundred years. . . . doubtful. It is very sad.
    The cathedrals and bridges made of cut stone, fitted and shaped by master masons, were built to last many generations.

  2. Yukon Tom March 4, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    This building has possibilities. The masses wont need to bring pikes to carry the heads of the bankers. It looks like they can decorate the twin spines. I judge a building partly on how hard it is to repaint. Must be something with how many times I have had to paint a room to get the right colour for my partner. All I can say is boy, they couldn’t pay me enough to repaint this dinosaur.

  3. Zarko Straadi March 4, 2016 at 9:38 pm #

    Just in time for the new “Independence Day” movie! Who told these bizarrechitects that buildings ought to look like invading alien spaceships (like several of the last few Eyesores) or the monsters themselves, as in the case of this Giger-esque “masterpiece?”

    When the archaeologists of the future describe their painstaking reconstruction of this thing as “some kind of religious totem,” they’re going to have a lot of fun making up the religion it must have been meant to honor!

  4. DadzMad March 6, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    Does everything he build look the same? I thought I was looking at the Milwaukee Art Museum. BTW, the museum is the dumbest building I’ve ever been in (my home city). Last event I attended was a Warhol display. I’m 6 foot and 180 pounds. I had to squeeze around a concrete capital to get to part of the display. What a weird building. I felt very uncomfortable in it, like I was in the basement of building at a college party that was going to get busted.

  5. Lawfish March 11, 2016 at 11:46 am #

    Reminds me of the Denver Airport. What a monstrosity that thing is! You land in Kansas and taxi for 68 miles to get to this sprawling eyesore in the middle of nowhere, walk 8.2 miles to baggage claim, then take a tram to Arizona to pick up your rental car. The old airport was perfectly functional and compact. Whoever designed the new one should be drawn and quartered and then hung!

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    • malthuss March 26, 2016 at 5:02 pm #

      Complete with Satanic ‘art.’

  6. Dennis R. Lieb March 14, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

    By the looks of the interior, it would seem to make an excellent practice facility for the NHL’s New York Rangers. Hell, they could move out of that piece of shit at MSG and play all there games here if there were room for seats. At least then the fans wouldn’t have to endure Penn Station as a prerequisite to reaching the game.

  7. Ishabaka March 21, 2016 at 8:56 am #

    Woul look right at home in Pyonyang.

  8. Laura Louzader March 21, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    This monstrosity and others like it might not have happened if there had been any discussion of the equally monstrous and unnecessary financial costs of such architectural stunts vs a more “conventional” structure. These costs are not only incurred at the point of design and construction, at least doubling and likely tripling the cost of a more prosaic design, but are charged against a future that will not be able to repair or replace the materials used, which will probably not have the lifespan of traditional materials.

    Do we, the taxpayers, have the right to demand that our money be made to stretch as far as possible, and that “stunts” by famous Starchitects are a flagrant waste of money that could be made to do a lot more work for less money, buy cleaving to more traditional, “boring” designs and materials?

  9. routersurfer March 24, 2016 at 6:25 am #

    I disagree. This is a great space. Crank up the Ice machine and Zamboni ! We can build a squirrel cage treadmill for the Banksters to labor on providing power for the ice. Zamboni will be powered by all the 80+ proof booze in the Wall Street offices. Let the hanging of the Banksters begin ! Just think of it as cold storage until the rising oceans make a nice bog to plant the SOB’s in. The circle of life. We will have a need for good peat bog energy in the years to come.

  10. jayrome March 30, 2016 at 9:32 am #

    Here’s some afterthoughts about Calatrava’s works. Speaking from a sculptors perspective, SC’s work well as maquettes, small scale models that conveys an idea in three dimensional form. Has anybody checked out his stage sets for drama and ballet performances.
    Wow! would be an understatement. As conceptual pieces of sculptural forms, I feel they are masterful works. Maybe when they are scaled up, a great deal is lost in the translation, at least, that is my perception of SC works. He has stretched the limits of his materials and extended the engineered connectors of the structural components, beyond what most architects dare not try.
    I have my doubts about the siting of the structure, clashing with its surroundings. His structures need lots of space to breathe.

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