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The Oculus awarded for engineering excellence

Photo: COWI

​Time and money was saved and now an award for its innovative approach was received. Those are just a few of the outcomes of strong team-work and an open mindset to explore alternative solutions during the construction of the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub.

Inspired by a pair of hands releasing a white dove, the Oculus – the new World Trade Centre Center Transportation Hub in New York City - is an eye-catching and iconic structure. But it is not only unique when it comes to its shape and form.

When the construction of the new transportation hub was about to begin in 2011, Skanska approached COWI, and collectively the team determined that a segmental erection scheme was the best way to attain the geometric control needed.

For this innovative approach, COWI was recognized and honoured on Saturday, April 9, with the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia (ACEC-BC) Award for Engineering Excellence in the Transportation & Bridges Category.

”The particular erection scheme is more commonly used in bridge erection rather than building erection.  We decided that it would be suitable to use this approach as it meant that extensive falsework would not be required. Not only did this save time and money, it allowed us to control geometry of the structure throughout construction. This was crucial due to the intricacy of the design,” explains Tobias Petschke, Senior Bridge Engineer at COWI.

Designed by the legendary architect, Santiago Calatrava, and the Downtown Design Partnership, the Oculus structure is the entrance to the new multi-billion dollar transit station at the tip of Manhattan Island in New York that will serve over 200,000 members of the travelling public each day.


The main transit hall is 365 feet long, 90 feet longer than the main concourse of Grand Central Terminal.

Over 12,500 tons of specially designed structural steel has been used to construct the WTC Transportation Hub Oculus, which is equivalent to the mass of 880 average sized school buses.

Design of the Hub includes fully integrated, climate-controlled concourses, mezzanines and platforms featuring high performance lighting and elegant finishes.

The Vierendeel Truss, serves as the “backbone” for the mezzanine roof and acts as a support for the northeast corner of the WTC Memorial. The truss weighs over 270 tons.

LAST UPDATED: 10.04.2017