Fulton Centre, New York


Duration:8 years


Country: New York, USA

What did this project achieve?

On New York's subway make it far easier for people to change from one line to another

The Fulton Centre is a transport hub connecting 11 subway lines at Fulton Street station in New York City's Lower Manhattan.

New York's subway system was built by independent private companies in the early 20th century. Transfers between the lines were not a priority. This meant that changing trains could be difficult, even after the subway was taken over by the city.

As use of the city's underground grew, complex interchanges such as those at Fulton Street became crowded and could make changing trains confusing – particularly for people who didn't know the subway well, such as tourists.

The Fulton Centre project aimed to make it easier to transfer from one line to another as well as improving access throughout the Fulton Street complex.

The development included a new station building as well as major remodelling of the complex's interior to make it easier to get around. It also aimed to improve access to the World Trade Centre site on the street above.

The scheme also linked Fulton Street station with the nearby Cortlandt Street, Chambers Street and World Trade Centre stations.

A key feature of the project saw the installation of the 'Sky-Reflector Net' – a domed atrium made of glass and steel that reflects light from the sun 34m down to platform level.

A major engineering scheme for New York, the Fulton Centre opened in November 2014.

Difference the new hub has made

Before refurbishment, passengers using the 4 linked Fulton Street stations often found the layout confusing. Customers have reported finding it easier to get around since the work was completed.

The Fulton Centre has become one of New York's busiest transport interchanges with around 300,000 passengers on weekdays.

With nearly 5,600m² of new retail and commercial space, the centre is playing a large part in the economic recovery of Lower Manhattan.

How the work was done

The Fulton Centre scheme saw engineers remodel or refurbish many areas of the original Fulton Street subway complex – including the construction of a new main transit centre building.

Workers also refurbished 4 existing stations, constructed an underground pedestrian concourse and built connections to 2 other stations.

The scheme also saw street level access to the subway improved with new entrances in the historic Corbin building above the station. The project team also refurbished the building which was built in 1888.

The biggest single change to the complex was the installation of the Sky-Reflector Net. The 790m² glass atrium is 34m above platform level. It has 950 diamond-shaped reflective panes which bounce light down into the station below.

Engineers used a system of tensioned cables to hold the reflective panes together. Each connection in the cable net is subject to unique stresses, based on its position.

The project team developed a computer model to help design and build the Sky-Reflector Net. The real-time system meant engineers could see how minor changes to components of the cable net would affect the overall structure.


I'm really a little breathless about it… it makes what was a mess into something beautiful.

Peter S Kalikow

Chair of the Metropolitan Transport Authority, in the New York Times.

Fascinating facts

The Sky Reflector-Net is made up of 112 tensioned cables, 224 high strength rods and nearly 10,000 stainless steel components.

New foundations had to be dug for the Corbin building as part of the project. The work was done by hand as the street was too narrow for machines.

85% of all journeys in downtown Manhattan are made by the city's mass transit system.

People who made it happen

  • Client: Metropolitan Transport Authority
  • Architects: Grimshaw
  • Consulting engineers: Arup
  • Designer, Sky-Reflector Net: James Carpenter Design Associates

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