NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The most controversial – and expensive – building in New York City opens to the public next week, but CBS2 got a sneak preview of the $4 billion World Trade Center transit hub.
The new structure, known as "Oculus," is perched at the edge of the 9/11 Memorial.
CBS2's Tony Aiello reported the apex of the ceiling soars 160 feet above the floor, which is larger than the main concourse at Grand Central. The place will eventually be packed with shoppers as stores like Apple and Eataly are leasing space.
"It's a little odd, strange, but nice. Kind of modernistic, right?" Rhona Altschuler of Bensonhurst said.
Jerry James of Long Island City said the hub reminds him of a "big eagle flying."
Critics are divided on the architectural merits of the structure, with one calling the transit hub "a lemon," while another praised it as "extravagantly idealistic."
However, everyone agrees the $4 billion price tag is hard to justify.
The price of the transit hub doubled in the 12 years since architect Santiago Calatrava unveiled his design.
CBS2 reported after a change in leadership, the Port Authority became very cost-conscious and demanded changes. Mezzanine ribs were supposed to be polished to a glassy satiny finish, but instead there's a rough finish under the coat of paint, which saved millions of dollars.
Cost was such an issue that the Port Authority declined to spend money on a ribbon cutting.
It's estimated the transit hub will see up to 200,000 visitors a day.
The transit hub will open for visitors on March 3.
for more features.