The Greenwich Street entrance to the new transit hub at the rebuilt World Trade Center site in downtown Manhattan. Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the “Oculus” is a train station, plaza and shopping mall adjacent to the memorial site for the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
“Sunday Morning” asked photographer Daniel Jones to capture the new site, the exterior of which has been likened to a dove with clipped wings.
“When you stand outside and you look at this, it is so different from all the buildings around it, that it does take your mind away from what happened here, the devastation and the tragedy,” photographer Daniel Jones told CBS News’ Martha Teichner. “And I think it opens up people’s minds to interpreting this building as whatever they see it as.”
“I’ve heard every description you can think of as to what this building looks like,” said Jones. “A turkey carcass, an armadillo, a bird with clipped wings ‘cause one side is longer than the other. A Pokemon character!”
A view of the Oculus’ “wings,” with No. 3 World Trade Center under construction.
A view taken during a press preview of the Oculus, with a giant American flag.
At 800,000 square feet, the hub is the third largest transportation center in New York City.
A view of the interior.
“When I came in here the first time, it felt like a giant skating rink,” Daniel Jones told Teichner. “It was ethereal, it was almost heavenly in a way. But when I came in this morning and all the trains had just unloaded, it was packed. It still had that feeling of like a grand plaza or heavenly plaza. Looking at all the spires and the graceful lines, it just really worked. I see more of what the architect was after, as opposed to when I first came; I wasn’t quite sure how he envisioned people walking through the space. I was pretty skeptical the first time, But I’ve changed my mind. I like it a lot more now.”
One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center as seen through the roof of the Oculus.
The ceiling of the Oculus.
The “wings” of the Oculus.
Wing and Flag
A flag outside the Oculus.
“I look at so many things visually,” said photographer Daniel Jones, “so I’m looking at the lines, the curvature, and why did he do it one side taller than the other? And it’s white marble, white on white. And a white building in New York City, I kind of wonder, who’s gonna clean it, you know?”
“So you’re thinking of it very practically. You’re not thinking of symbolism, of any kind of a spiritual experience?” asked CBS News’ Martha Teichner.
“No, don’t get me wrong -- I had more of a spiritual experience the first time I saw it ‘cause there was no one else here. And every little sound would echo and it just felt like I was just in a big cloud. It very much like a spaceship. I mean, if you’ve seen any of the ‘Alien’ films, it just reminds me of what a spaceship from that film would look like. It’s very cathedral-like.”
Peering through the Oculus’ wings.
A view of One World Trade Center from Church Street.
The Oculus’ wings.
“So this white space, in a sense, has been cleansed of 9/11?” asked Teichner.
“Boy, that’s a tough question,” Jones replied. “I would say yes, overall. And it’s still not complete. But it’s 90% complete, in terms of the outside. They still have some construction to finish off. But I think of the reflection pools and the footprints of the original buildings’ more as a cleansing.”
The hub will serve approximately 250,000 commuters each day, and welcome millions of visitors from around the world each year.
Ceiling With Flag
An American flag, hung within the Oculus.
Stairway and Skylight
Stairway in the Oculus.
CBS News’ Martha Teichner asked Jones if the space could eventually have its own life without a memory of 9/11.
“Oh, definitely,” Jones said. “It’s a big plaza surrounded by a mall within a train station. So it has really three purposes.”
“Do you think there would be any criticism that here is a place associated with what happened in 9/11 that’s loaded with stores, that’s essentially a mall?”
“I felt a little of that. But over time, I think that will pass. Having this type of vibrancy, where people can come and shop - you’re bringing life to an area that was pretty dormant after 9/11. So I think it’s a good thing overall.”
Steps From PATH Trains
Steps leading to the PATH Trains to New Jersey.
Wing and WTC #3
Oculus wing, with a view of No. 3 World Trade Center under construction.
Wing and WTC #1
Oculus Wing with a view of No. 1 WTC from Church Street.
South concourse stairs.
An escalator leading down the Oculus.
Train station turnstiles.
Escalators leading to the west concourse.
Wing and WTC Buildings
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By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan