Seen & Heard: The Oculus’s Absurd Elevators

••• The Maharishi store at 38 Lispenard was supposed to open in June, so I’ve been growing concerned, but the company says it’s still on, just delayed a bit.

••• From a P.S. 150 parent: “P.S. 150 (334 Greenwich St at Jay) is having its annual sidewalk rummage sale this Thursday, Oct. 12 from 8:30am-3pm (rain date Friday, Oct. 13). Plenty of gently used clothing and accessories (for adults and kids), housewares, books, toys and sporting goods will be for sale.”

••• Remember the crazy amount of insulation pellets falling from the construction site at 143 Fulton? (It looked like snow.) A local TV reporter is investigating it. If you saw it, email me at tribecacitizen@gmail.com and I’ll put you in touch.

••• My sister was visiting this weekend from California, and she has to keep an injured foot on a knee scooter—which has really made me aware of how difficult it can be for disabled folks to get around these parts. (Props to the workers on the Hornblower boat to Liberty/Ellis Island, who went far out of their way to help.) But what I really want to talk about is the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. How on earth was the building allowed to be designed without one (public, anyway) elevator that goes from street level to the bottom floor of the Oculus? Example #1: From Eataly, you can descend to the Oculus’s upper floor, but then you have to walk all the way to the east end of the Oculus to board another elevator down. Example #2: From the Oculus’s street level, at least on the east side, the elevator goes to a floor (pictured below) devoted to an as-yet-unopened subway entrance—but to actually reach a shopping level, you have to move over to another elevator. I like the aesthetics of the building well enough, but functionally, that’s a massive fail. It’s bananas. (And don’t get me started on the escalators, particularly in the 4 World Trade Center retail, which are misaligned so that you’re forced to walk around the opening at street level….) If all of this was intentional, and I hope it wasn’t, I have to assume that the reason was to force visitors to pass by as many shops as possible. That might be acceptable at a normal mall, but at a transportation hub?

••• Press release: “Best Market is proud to announce its foods and products can now be purchased for
delivery online at shop.bestmarket.com, an online grocery ordering and home delivery service
powered by Instacart.”

••• In other supermarket news, N. reports that there’s now an Amazon locker in Whole Foods’s vestibule on West Street.

••• J. noticed that the outpost of the Paris Baguette chain at 273 Canal is open.

••• Yesterday’s In the News post included an item about how ESPN has leased space space at Pier 17 for TV and radio studios, and the New York Post said that the red lighting of the building’s exterior “was expected to be for one night only.” Luis from FiDi Fan Page emailed to correct that last impression: “They are set up to honor every holiday, flag, and charitable event color in the Crayola box. I think it’s awesome, but I like shiny things. It also does basic white, but my guess is that they will follow a similar pattern to the WTC and the Empire State Building.” And he directed me to a video that he had posted of the lights changing garishly; a still from it is below.

23 Comments

  1. LOVE IT ! LOVE IT! LOVE IT! The Pier Lighting Video post got the 2nd highest number of likes on FiDi Fan Page ever. :-)

  2. Erik, thank you for writing about the Oculus and it’s serious fail re: Handicapped access. I have been so frustrated about this myself and am glad you’ve said something.

    I was in a cast and on a knee scooter for the better part of 9 months. My daily commute is to and from Jersey City via the PATH, and I have never seen such a poorly designed system as the Oculus. When entering between Church and W.Bway (automatic handicapped doors often are inoperable), navigate to the bank of elevators in the back of this floor (again, often out of order), then take them down to the retail level where one must traverse diagonally across the very large and busy floor to another elevator, just to go down one level, then go diagonally back through to the handicapped PATH turnstile and to the other end of the station to get to the elevator down to the tracks.

    It is an overly complicated system to navigate. I don’t know how this was approved and made ADA compliant. It really opened my eyes as to what life-long handicapped people have to deal with. Had I been in a wheelchair there would have been many days where I couldn’t have made it into work because the elevators were out of service.

    And who decided to split up the escalators up and down 3 levels with a bank of steps in the middle?? Perhaps that’s a trendy design feature, but it’s senseless.

    I’m back on two feet again, but I haven’t forgotten how difficult this is. Thanks for speaking up about it.

  3. The escalators are also ridiculous – escalator – staircase – escalator – staircase. And the adjacent elevators rarely work. $4 Billion in stupidity.

  4. It also affects the use of strollers. Any downtown residents or tourists with young kids that might want to explore the space during non crowded times face the same issues..just adding to how ridiculous the setup is.

  5. Agree with Oculus design fail! I wanted to go to Newark Airport a couple of months ago (during Penn Station Summer of Hell) and decided to take the PATH to Newark and then NJ Transit to EWR. I had one suitcase (checked size but not large) and found myself carrying my suitcase down multiple staircases to get to the PATH turnstyles. From the entrance on Vesey I started on one escalator and then was forced to take the stairs. I assume there is an elevator somewhere but not super close to the escalators and staircases. Really annoying to have to lug a suitcase while in a hurry in an “ultra modern transportation hub”.

  6. I agree about Oculus elevators. Very inconvenient and bad design.

  7. Even for someone who can manage stairs but needs to hold the bannister for balance, navigating the Oculus is difficult. Most of the stair runs are very wide with few banisters. On the trip down from Vesey there’s a bit where the bannister stops at an internal round column. The wide cascade of stairs from the lower floor of the Oculus retail level to the Path entry/tunnel to 1WTC level is especially bad.

    It’s as if the architect’s beautiful conceptual rendering got built without any input from the engineers as to things code requires but clutter the “clean lines and views”.

  8. Ha!
    I think I saw your sister on Harrison.

    (I did think…’that looks tough’)

  9. The Escalator-Stairway-Escalator coming in from the entrance on Vesy is unexplainable. How on earth could that be plausible? Why the stairway instead of another escalator to keep the flow going? Zero sense.

  10. No escalators or elevators….. just stairs coming into Oculus from the entrance of E Train station is also unexplainable. After you enter into the Oculus from the E Train station there is a handicap ramp that leads you to a just stairs.

    • That one drives me crazy every time I see it. There is a sign right next to the wheelchair ramp that says no wheelchair access beyond this ramp.

  11. I too am not happy with the handicap access or to the Path Train when you have a suitcase going to Newark. To get to the Path train from the Vesey St entrance you go down one escalator then you have to switch to an elevator since there are not escalators on the next level. The escalators are only on every other level which is ridiculous. Then when you get to the last part of getting to the train there is another set of stairs and no elevator or escalator in sight. I usually ask a family member to go with me or I am lucky enough to get help from a stranger to get a suitcase down this last set of stairs.

    At least they put escalators to the Path train level. the rest makes no sense. The stairs on every other level do not even make people go past stores they are just poor planning

  12. I too am not happy with the handicap access or to the Path Train when you have a suitcase going to Newark. To get to the Path train from the Vesey St entrance you go down one escalator then you have to switch to an elevator since there are not escalators on the next level. The escalators are only on every other level which is ridiculous. Then when you get to the last part of getting to the train there is another set of stairs and no elevator or escalator in sight. I usually ask a family member to go with me or I am lucky enough to get help from a stranger to get a suitcase down this last set of stairs. At least they put escalators to the Path train level. the rest makes no sense. The stairs on every other level do not even make people go past stores they are just poor planning

  13. The same problem at the 9/11 Museum. It’s elevator down to concourse level, then a walk across the concourse to a different bank of elevators to go down to Sub level. Same with the escalators. I was told it’s because of the pre existing infrastructure below. PATH, slurry wall, etc.

  14. Thank you for writing about the escalator / elevator access to the PATH station. It’s a significant diminishment of service for those who use the PATH from the single escalator from street level to metro-card-swipe level, even for those without mobility concerns, strollers or luggage. I suspect you are right to blame the retail interests. This is a failure of design but also of public officials who approved the design without regard for the interests of commuters.

  15. The elevator situation is absolutely ridiculous. As a family who lives in Battery Park, we frequent the Oculus often, and when we bring our 1year old in his stroller, we have to navigate through 5 (yes 5) different elevators just to get from Brookfield to Eataly. If that wasn’t hard enough, some of them only go up 1/2 a floor and aren’t clearly marked, and even worse, often times they aren’t working and then we have to become the “irresponsible” parents who are forced to bring their stroller on the escalator and get evil stares from everyone. Lets just say we love the stores, we love Eataly, and we HATE going there because we can’t do it easily with our child.

    • As I wrote above it’s because of the complicated infrastructure underneath. It’s ridiculous as I can attest trying to lug a heavy wheelie suitcase up and down stairs trying to reach the PATH turnstiles. I was also told by security in the Oculus that the elevators just inside the Vesey St. enterance can be commandeered by some offices and retail spaces above and then they bypass the Vesey St. exit/entrance. $4.5 bilion for this!

      • When they removed the old West Broadway PATH entrance there was word that it was going to be replaced with another street level entrance in the future. Hopefully they remedy this situation by putting an elevator bank or proper escalators to all levels there.

        • As a PATH commuter of 20 years I certainly hope it is true that they will put the old West Broadway entrance and the old escalators back. Thank you all for voicing your opinions so I know I was not the only one thinking it’s ridiculous to replace the original very functional and streamlined escalators with this new design that only cares about retail interests.

  16. Happy to report that the scaffolding is being taken down right now from the IPN building with Best Market in it.

  17. we are sooo happy!!!!

  18. 38 Lispenard Street store needs Loft Board approval before they can go ahead. This is the last step of real substance.

    NYC Department of Buildings
    B-SCAN List of Required Items
    Premises: 315 CHURCH STREET MANHATTAN Job No: 123121086
    BIN: 1002298 Block: 194 Lot: 20 Job Type: A2 – ALTERATION TYPE 2
    2 OPEN ITEMS OF 8 REQUIRED FOR JOB
    PRIOR TO APPROVAL ONLY
    LOFT BOARD CERTIFICATE T APP 08/22/2017 ________
    ENVIRONMENTAL RESTRICTIONS – OER NOTICE TO PROCEED T APP 08/22/2017 _____

    NYC Department of Buildings
    Document Overview

    Page: 1 of 1
    Premises: 315 CHURCH STREET MANHATTAN Job No: 123121086
    BIN: 1002298 Block: 194 Lot: 20 Num. of Documents: 2 Job Type: A2 – ALTERATION TYPE 2

    DOC NO WORK TYPE(S) / STATUS / JOB DESCRIPTION
    01 THE SCOPE OF WORK INCLUDES INTERIOR WORK AT AN EXISTING FIRST FLOOR PLUS MEZZANINE COMMERCIAL SPACE. NO CHANGE TO USE OR EGRESS. WORK TO INTERIOR PARTITIONS, PLUMBING, DOORS AS SHOWN ON PLANS. NO CHANGE IN USE, EGRESS OR OCCUPANCY.
    Status: J – PLAN EXAM – DISAPPROVED Status Date: 08/22/2017
    Plans Page Count: Not Provided
    Directive 14: N Applicant Name: ABRUZZO EMILY Pre-Filing Date: 08/22/2017

    TYPE STATUS DATE STATUS
    A2 – ALTERATION TYPE 2 08/22/2017 J: PLAN EXAM – DISAPPROVED
    OT – GEN. CONSTR. 08/22/2017 J: PLAN EXAM – DISAPPROVED
    PL – PLUMBING 08/22/2017 J: PLAN EXAM – DISAPPROVED
    02 FILING FOR STRUCTURAL MODIFICATIONS FOR A CONVENIENCE STAIR IN COMMERCIAL SPACE. NO CHANGE IN USE EGRESS OF OCCUPANCY.
    Status: J – PLAN EXAM – DISAPPROVED Status Date: 08/22/2017
    Plans Page Count: See Document 01 for totals
    Directive 14: N Applicant Name: PILLA DOMINICK Pre-Filing Date: 08/22/2017

    TYPE STATUS DATE STATUS
    OT – STRUCTURAL 08/22/2017 J: PLAN EXAM – DISAPPROVED

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