When 2 + 2 does not equal 4

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks destroyed the World Trade Center towers together with portions of the subway and train infrastructure surround it.  Since then NYC has rebuilt most of the office buildings and transportation but the last remaining piece was the famed Oculus;  a transportation node that connects New Jersey trains with NYC Subways in a grand architectural statement.


Oculus was designed by Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish architect, engineer and all-around artist and built by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).  Work was to take 5 years at a cost of approx. $2 billion.  From the outside Oculus looks like a mixture of a flying bird and a sail.  The inside looks totally different;  it looks like dinosaur bones exhibited at your local natural history museum.


This makes it an architectural and engineering spectacle worth seeing.  Whether you are a New Yorker or a tourist you should go visit it – preferably in the evening when it’s less crowded.  This building will soon be home to +/-150 high-end commercial tenants including Apple, Eataly, Victoria Secret, among many others and will be located mostly on the 2 floor.


Government agencies in the US usually look to build infrastructure that will endure and be viewed as icons in future generations – think of the US Capitol, White House, Washington Monuments, etc.  Oculus is no exception:  people traveling through it will enjoy its airy feeling and natural for centuries to come – also the shopping :).


This project’s completion marked the physical end of a very painful chapter in the lives of New Yorkers and Americans who lived through the worst terrorist attacks in the nation’s history.  Most people where upset with the sluggish rebuilding progress of the towers and transportation network at the former World Trade Center site and pressure on the MTA grew by the day.  Officials at the MTA probably believed that throwing money at this problem was going to make this project finish quicker.  That certainly didn’t happen.

But in this case 2+2 does not equal 4: because it was supposed to take 5 years to build and it took 10 years;  it what was supposed to cost $2 billion wound up topping $4 billion.  So In reality this project was only 1/4 efficient because the MTA used 4 times the very valuable resources of time and money.  Hopefully future generations won’t look up the price tag and limit themselves to enjoying the architecture.


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