-- The new Ground Zero transit hub will be a light-infused structure with two wing-like glass canopies stretching over a public plaza and a soaring roof that slides open to let in fresh air.
Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava — whose buildings often look like they could take flight — said the $2 billion station was inspired by the image of a child releasing a bird.
But some observers quipped that it also looks like the bones of an enormous dinosaur unearthed between the office towers of a rebuilt Ground Zero.
Gov. Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg unveiled the station design yesterday at the Winter Garden next to Ground Zero.
" 'Wow' is the first word that's just got to come to your mind," Bloomberg said.
The PATH plan also marked a key moment in downtown's recovery, following the recent selection of a Ground Zero memorial and a design for the site's signature Freedom Tower — all key pieces of lower Manhattan's future.
Calatrava, who is known internationally for his transportation-themed structures, described a "transparent building" designed so that natural light will reach all the way down to the PATH tracks, 60 feet below the street.
"We are bringing the light through our building and making the light one of the most solid pillars of our building," he said.
He called the glass and steel terminal "a brilliant sculpture in the center of the city."
One of the most novel aspects is the roof, which can open, with a kind of flapping of the wing-like canopies.
Officials at the Port Authority, which will build the station, said the roof would be open in good weather in the spring and fall and on mild summer days, allowing for natural ventilation.
Work on the station — at Church and Dey streets — could begin by the end of the year and be completed by 2009, the same year the Freedom Tower is to open.