“Every great architect is, necessarily, a great poet.”

“He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.” ― Frank Gehry


When it comes to visual poetry, famed Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava’s arguably greatest and most ambitious project was unveiled with much-deserved fanfare at New York City’s reimagined World Trader Center.  His gorgeous transportation hub, Oculus, reminiscent of a bird’s wings, is less about stunning architecture and daring design and rises to something even greater―that of art.

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The Journey is as Important as the Destination…

…and for the City That Never Sleeps this has never been truer than with the opening of the spectacular, new Fulton Center Station at Fulton Street and Broadway.  Not content with a simple transit hub, the city’s MTA, the local agency with oversight of the project, has unveiled a glass and steel marvel, the centerpiece of which is the Sky Reflector Net.

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© The New York Daily News

Built by Arup, James Carpenter Design Associates and Grimshaw Architects, the Sky Reflector is an eight-story dome comprised of glass prisms designed to refocus natural sunlight and illuminate the station.  How impressive is it ?  New Yorkers who have already used the station did the unthinkable…

They looked up.  And marveled.

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Manhattan’s new Fulton Center Station…

…due to open next year, is a tremendous construction project intended to improve service / connections involving close to a dozen subway lines, the Fulton, Park Place and World Trade Center stations, and PATH.  While the efficiency will be appreciated by New Yorkers, it’s the station itself which has art and architecture fans around the world watching. Designed by James Carpenter, the station’s signature architectural element is the soaring “Sky Reflector Net” which allows natural light to pour into the station and with its reflective surface literally fill the various corridors and levels with its ambient light.

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© 2013 commons.wikimedia.org

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM)…

…one of the largest architectural and engineering firms in the world, made its mark with beautiful, impeccably designed and minimalist commercial glass towers (believe it or not, they’re not mutually exclusive.)  The nearly 80 year-old firm’s Lever House in New York City, for example, is still considered a landmark achievement in the then-innovative concept of the “curtain wall” when it was constructed over 50 years ago.

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© 2013 SOM

The firm has taken on the holy grail of all projects when it submitted a design for the re-imagined Madison Square Garden & Penn Station complex in the heart of Manhattan.  Long considered one of the world’s premier sports and concert venues, the Garden–as its commonly known–is also derided as one of the ugliest buildings in North America, a reputation, despite numerous attempts at expansion and renovations, it has never escaped.  Its made even more obvious by its mere presence in a city known for the most recognizable skyline on the planet. The adjacent Penn Station, one of the busiest transportation hubs in America, has a reputation hardly any better than the Garden’s.

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© 2013 SOM

New York’s Senator Patrick Moynihan was the city’s greatest champion for a new, accessible Penn Station which was not only to serve local trains and Amtrak but was to strive for an ideal where public transportation, and the buildings which provide it, exist for a greater common good–an almost utopian view, if you will, of urban planning.  Sadly, the Senator’s passing in 2001 meant he never saw this lofty dream fulfilled.

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© 2013 SOM

Plans may be rapidly moving forward, however, and the Senator’s dreams finally realized with SOM’s plans. Their trademark glass facades, and multiple platforms, allow for an almost unfathomable space where patrons have nearly unobstructed views of everything else taking place around them. Their design may be much more futuristic than, say, Grand Central Station’s layout, but the intent is the same. For the self-proclaimed Capital of the World, nothing less than a spectacular, mind-bending space is acceptable and SOM may have just pulled that off.