The amazing architecture of the WTC Oculus in New York City

 In Locations

One of our favorite locations in New York City is the World Trade Center Transit Hub, or Oculus, by Santiago Calatrava. While the building has had its fair share of controversies, it’s hard to argue that it stands out in the dense World Trade Center area. The white, geometric design looks like a skeleton and is great for architectural abstracts.

Let’s start with the exterior. The curves and patterns are fantastic for abstract images. A high-key black-and-white look works especially well here, for a clean, minimalistic look.

The sharp, bone-like structure stands out against the surrounding buildings, which is great for wide compositions…

…as well as more abstract ones.

Moving on to the interiors… there’s a lot to explore inside the Oculus, let’s start with the main atrium. The large space has a lot of great lines and patterns to play with.

If you have sun, it can create some interesting shadows:


The fins are separated by windows. In the image above, the angle is hiding the spaces in-between to create a continuous pattern. By shooting more straight-on in the image below, you can play with the intersecting fins.

We encourage moving around the Oculus and its different levels. There are a lot of great shapes, patterns, and lines to use for your compositions.

From the lower levels, you can head west towards One WTC and Brookfield Place. First, you’ll find the PATH Station, which has an interesting ceiling.

If you keep going, you will find a large pathway leading to One WTC. Make sure you shoot from both the lower and upper levels.

The Oculus is an amazing place to photograph architectural details and abstracts. As you can see in this post, we have a preference for high-key black and white images, but feel free to explore and experiment!

We’ll be shooting at the Oculus for quite a while during our New York Workshop this fall. Check it out, we have planned 4 days photographing architecture around the city, with many locations like this one.

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