NEW YORK I Fulton Center


Understand Fulton Center’s Giant Oculus As Its Opening Nears

Thursday, November 6, 2014, by Curbed Staff

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Mahadev Rahmen, the Director of the engineering firm Arup Limited, at a panel discussion last week hosted by the New York Transit Museum previewing the new Fulton Center subway station. The station is finally set to open this Monday, November 10th, at 5 p.m., after years of setbacks from issues related to funding, Hurricane Sandy, and systems testing, according to the panel members. When asked for some more explanation of the delays, the panel looked at one another, shook their heads, and seemed to agree upon an unspoken response of “we don’t have all day.”

The new station was conceived back in 2002 in response to the devastation faced by the Financial District on September 11, but the need for station to be improved has existed for decades. “Many New Yorkers remember the ‘spaghetti mess,’” said Vincent Chang, an architect for Grimshaw who worked with Arup to execute the design and the subterranean infrastructure that connects passengers to the 10 subway lines running through the center. “Our goal was to address what it’s like to be on the subway, in an anonymous and alienating space.”

The opening of the oculus, covered by glass, brings in light, thereby reducing the need for electric lighting. It will also act a reservoir for the heat that rises from the subway line spaghetti, reducing the demand for air conditioning. If there were ever a fire in the center, the smoke would rise up in the oculus allowing for relatively safe passage beneath. The sky reflectors, the most traditionally artistic element of the design, are “differently oriented” to the sun, "scattering and recasting’ light down through the aluminum paneled netting of the oculus, according to Carpenter. “The reflectors could actually act as a time telling device,” said Carpenter. With the artistic element of the new center representing 1 to 2 percent of the overall construction budget of $1.4 billion, Carpenter may have also designed the most expensive and least practical clock ever.


Tracking NYC’s Transit Development Projects


Fulton Center

Groundbreaking Date: The project began in 2002

Estimated Completion Date at Groundbreaking: December 2007

Estimated Completion Date Today: TBD, but within weeks of Oct. 7, 2014

Brief Synopsis of the Project: When the Fulton Center, the new transit hub connecting a tangle of 11 subway lines in Lower Manhattan, is finished, it will be utilized by roughly 300,000 people. The road to completion has been arduous; the project initially started with estimated costs of $750 million and is now using a budget of $1.4 billion.

Critics have noted that the Fulton Center has drained resources while not increasing the subway system’s ability to handle more riders. Last year, then-Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the MTA was, “throwing precious dollars at projects like the Fulton Street station,” which “will do nothing to add to capacity when work finally ends.”

“The original budget and completion date simply weren’t realistic,” said Kevin Ortiz, a spokesman for the MTA. “The way that the original procurement was packaged was all done under one contract. We received one bid that was double the amount of the engineers’ estimate. The contract had to be redone and broken down into six different contracts, for which we received multiple competitive bids, all below estimates.”

The MTA says it has adhered to its current budget and schedule since May 2009.


Bravo! Welcome to the 21st Century!


I have to go see this sometime. Finally its finished. Looks amazing, and its another step in the glorious transformation of the financial district.


November 29th, 2014



Fulton St. folly: MTA wasted $1.4 billion

By Steve Cuozzo on February 2, 2015 | 8:58pm

Ten years and $1.4 billion down the drain — and they still couldn’t spring for a simple station map.

The MTA’s gold-plated Fulton Center comically fails at its core mission to “untangle” the “maze,” “labyrinth” and “catacombs” of four linked subway stations and nine lines. In fact, the complex may well be less navigable than its hated predecessor.

Sure, it’s better lit. The black steel-and-glass, doughnut-domed main hall — meant to proclaim downtown’s post-9/11 renaissance — is easier on the eyes than the old jumble of rats-nest entrances in dinky commercial buildings.

The MTA built modern new entrances and public toilets. It beautifully restored the adjacent, 125-year-old Corbin Building, which is now a John Street gateway to the complex.

But in my many explorations since the November opening of the “Grand Central of Downtown,” befuddled riders have asked me time and again how to find the No. 2 and A lines — and even the street.

Ending such confusion was the main excuse for the 10-year construction nightmare, which uprooted hundreds of small businesses and left a crater on Broadway until a $423 million federal bailout.

All that cash bought neither an inch of new track nor improvements in the subway system’s rotting infrastructure.

To The New York Times, the former “spaghetti-bowl tangle of dark corridors” and “baffling signage” has given way to a “kind of Crystal Palace, crowned by a dome that funnels daylight two stories below ground.”

Sorry: It’s a puzzle palace, with more connection conundrums and bum-steer signage than before. Many train platforms remain dirty, dingy, affairs despite “rehabilitation.”

The MTA’s claim that Fulton Center is “fully digital” is belly-laugh material. There’s no wi-fi on train platforms. MetroCard machines, which ought to be a no-brainer, are scarce and hard to find.

The ugly truth is that the Fulton Center was never about unraveling a maze. It was about building a monument to politicians’ and planners’ egos, crowned by a useless glass dome.


May 23, 2015


Pic by me