By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Translucent glass tiles never before seen in New York's subway system will line the walls of the new Fulton Street Transit Center.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority recently began installing the brick-shaped tiles in new underground passageways near the A/C lines. The tiles, which have a brushed finish that makes them resistant to scratched graffiti, will eventually coat much of the new station when it opens in 2014.
"This glass tile will help impart a look that will be specific to the Fulton Street Transit Center," said Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman.
While traditional ceramic subway tiles measure 4 inches by 4 inches, the new glass tiles are longer and narrower, at 2 inches by 10 inches, Ortiz said.
Catherine McVay Hughes, chairwoman of Community Board 1's World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee, recently got a first glimpse of the tiles during tour of the construction.
"It's a cheery, elegant tile," Hughes said. "The Fulton Street station will be a unique hub, so it makes sense that we would have the latest tile installed."
The glass tiles are slightly more expensive than the ceramic ones, Ortiz said, but officials said the project is still within its $1.4 billion budget.
The MTA also hopes to make the Fulton Transit Center the first LEED-rated, environmentally friendly station in the city, Ortiz said. The building's open floor plan will filter natural sunlight from a glass dome down to the subway platforms, the roof will reflect heat to keep the building cool in the summer and efficient plumbing fixtures will reduce water waste by 30 percent, the MTA said.
To make the construction of the building greener, the MTA will use at least 10 percent recycled materials and 10 percent materials sourced from local companies, the agency said.
The new station connecting nine subway lines is scheduled to open in 2014, though some pieces will come online earlier. This summer, the MTA will open a new entrance to the station on William Street, and in the fall the MTA plans to open the southbound R platform at Cortlandt Street, which has been closed for repairs for years.
A tower crane recently arrived at the site of the future station, and workers raised the first steel beam into place on March 9, the MTA said.
Uday Durg, the MTA's manager of lower Manhattan projects, said he was encouraged to see the recent progress on the site, including the new tiles.
"Once you see the tiles going up, the finish is close," Durg said.