On the 15th anniversary of 9/11 yesterday, the skylights at Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus at the World Trade Center opened for the first time, allowing light to fill the massive space as a memorial to the attacks on the twin towers. Following the masterplan laid out by Daniel Libeskind, Calatrava’s design used the angle of light as a guiding principle for orienting the transportation hub – so that at precisely 10:28 am each September 11th (the time of the collapse of the North Tower), a beam of light would pass through the opening in the roof and project all the way down the center of the Oculus floor.
A placard at the Oculus for the event explained:
On 9/11 each year, weather permitting, the skylight of the Oculus will be opened to allow the sun to fill this entire space.
Envisioned by Santiago Calatrava to symbolize a dove released from a child’s hand, the Oculus is situated at an angle in contrast to neighboring buildings and even the entire grid of the city, thereby allowing the light to shine directly overhead and for the sun to move across its axis exactly on September 11th each year.
On this 15th anniversary, we remember the innocent lives lost and celebrate the acts of selflessness and courage by so many. Please join us in remembrance of the victims and heroes of 9/11.
The roof remained open for the day's events, giving visitors a framed view of One World Trade Center, serving as a symbol of the city's strength to recover and rebuild from the tragic day.