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Inside the Oculus, New York City

From the architecture of the Romans to Washington D.C., the classic, permanent nature of marble has long been used throughout history as a way to preserve legacy and tell a story of power.

Today in New York City, a modern manifestation of this concept can be seen on your daily commute to work. Designed by the internationally acclaimed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the World Trade Center transportation hub is the third largest transportation center in New York City. At the heart of the hub lies the “Oculus”. This magnificent piece of architecture is symbolic and stunning both below and above ground.

From below, walking into the Oculus after traveling to the transportation hub by train is a breath of fresh air. The Oculus is a wide-open space filled with grey and white marble floors, white walls, and the white structures and skylight floods the building with natural light. The massive skylight runs the length of the Oculus’ spine and plays a symbolic role in the remembrance of the victims from September 11th. The mixture of white marble and natural light evokes the feeling of peace, remembrance, and importance.

“In all weather conditions, the public will experience a subtle sense of man’s vulnerability, while maintaining a link to a higher order,” Mr. Calatrava said. “The memory of the victims will be honored and explicitly expressed through the most symbolic and significant element of the project,” he continued, “allowing people to spontaneously gather with a sense of transcendence and elevation.”

Above ground, the structure was designed to resemble a dove taking flight. Calatrava wanted the structure to evoke the image of a bird being released from a child’s hands.

Image courtesy of Hufton + Crow

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Natural Stone in Retail Design

Fashion and interior design are both expressions of art that often influence one another. For fashion, retail stores are an important way to introduce new customers and engage loyal customers through an experience that encapsulates the brand. Around the world, many fashion brands and department stores such as Barney’s, Dolce and Gabbana, and Bulgari look to natural stone as a way to keep a space elegant, luxurious, and timeless.

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Proenza Shouler. Image courtesy of Interior Design Magazine. Photography by Scott Frances/Otto.

The Proenza Shouler boutique in SoHo features a quiltwork combination of Silver Wave and Calacatta Marble from floor-to-ceiling with a dark grout. The dark industrial metal clothing rods are suspended from the ceiling, and mirrors the geometric rectangular composition of the marble slabs.

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Barney’s New York. Image courtesy of Interior Design Magazine. Photography by Scott Frances/Otto.

The prestigious Barney’s New York Chelsea Flagship store designed by Steven Harris Architects and Rees Roberts + Partners achieved its sophisticated look by experimenting with curved forms in both the architectural composition of the store as well as in the display cases and furnishings. Small leather goods are placed on asymmetrical granite and marble tabletops with reflective brass bases.

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Barney’s New York. Image courtesy of Interior Design Magazine. Photography by Scott Frances/Otto.

Cantilevered marble consoles with a hidden anchored steel base display fine jewelry throughout the department store. Smoked glass mirrors are used to reflect the bold, intriguing shapes, while adding a dramatic flair to the space. 

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Dolce and Gabbana Aoyama. Image courtesy of www.dolcegabbana.com.

Luxury fashion house Dolce and Gabbana in Ayoama, Tokyo designed by Curiosity, shows how the entrance and signage of a retail store plays a key role in introducing the brand to the public. The vertical wall application of the strategically matched four story Arabescato Corchia Marble is contrasted against black lacquer panels and used inside the storefront window displays. A large Grigio Carnico Marble sign above the entryway with matching diamond bookmatch on the sidewalk, invite customers to experience the store.

Bulgari London. Images courtesy of www.petermarinoarchitect.com.

Inspired by Elizabeth Taylor and her affection for Bulgari jewelry during the filming of Cleopatra, the Bulgari London boutique designed by Peter Marino mixes the grandeur of classical Roman architecture with the glamour of Old Hollywood. Carrara Marble is used throughout the store to create dramatic entryways and a striking staircase.

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