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Seventh Anniversary of the Oculus Opening

interior of oculus with people walking

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the grand opening of the Oculus. On August 16, 2016, Westfield’s Shops at the Oculus opened, and the Oculus was officially open to the public! Earlier that year, other areas of the Oculus had opened. Besides traveling through the Oculus to access 12 New York City Transit subway lines and the PATH station for trains to New Jersey, visitors and locals can enjoy shopping, dining, and programming.  In celebration of its seventh birthday, here are seven facts about the structure:


1. On average, up to 194,000 people walk through the Oculus every day.


2. The structure was designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who wanted to evoke the image of a hand releasing a dove to symbolize hope. Calatrava also designed the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church that is on campus.

the oculus

3. The structure's orientation serves as a lasting reminder of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is in alignment with the sun’s solar angles on each September 11, from 8:46 a.m., when the first plane struck, until 10:28 a.m., when the second tower collapsed. Its central skylight fits this alignment and washes the Oculus floor with a beam of light.


4. 13,000 lighting fixtures have been replaced throughout the Oculus front and back of house with LED bulbs to increase energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint significantly by about 4,500 metric tons annually.


5. The Oculus stretches to 160 feet tall. Once a year, ‘Big Red’, an aerial lift machine, comes out on the Oculus floor to inspect the 60 fans located at the top of the Oculus.


6. Approximately 11,500 tons of steel were used in the construction of the Oculus, and it was so specialized that only four firms in the world manufacture it (Rethinking the Future). 

the oculus with multicolored lights

7. The Oculus rib LED uplighting can be changed to any color and is lit for many holidays throughout the year.


The Oculus is not only a transportation hub that connects the region, but is also home to shopping and dining, and hosts several events year-round including musical performances, movie screenings, popups, art exhibits, workout classes, and so much more. As you visit, take a moment to appreciate the structure and reflect on the meaning of its design and complexities.

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