Design: The World Trade Center Mall’s Grand Digital Billboard

A week before the mall beneath Calatrava's Oculus sculpture opens, a look at the enormous screen mounted on white marble in the complex's corridor.

In less than a week, the Westfield World Trade Center—a luxury mall inside the New York World Trade Center Hub—will open, allowing thousands of commuters, tourists and idle passers-by to stop in and shop. At least, that’s what mall operator Westfield is hoping. (Many of the major opening-day retailers, like H&M, which signed a lease for 25,000 square feet, have signalled they may not be ready for business by August 16, the inaugural day.)

One aspect of the project that will be functioning fully is the 280-foot wide digital billboard installed along the mall’s main corridor—as the New York Times points out, the same span as the steeple at nearby Trinity Church. At 9.5-feet tall, the panel will offer 2,660 square feet of space for commercials, promotions and what Westfield Corporation vaguely calls “moments of interest.” Westfield maintains that the flashy nature of the futuristic billboard is not at odds with the sacred nature of the World Trade Center. Perhaps in a gesture at solemnity, it will emit no sound—silent, even as it pulses, flashes and gyrates with pixels.