Nearly 640,000 people use Penn Station every day, making it the busiest train station in the United States. Unfortunately, it’s nowhere close to being ready to handle high speed trains and the expected influx of new commuters, residents and tourists the city can expect to see in the coming years. It’s also dark, cramped, confusing and topped off with Madison Square Garden – an arena that holds concerts, events and games on a regular basis. But the question remains how best to update the transit hub to handle the new traffic, while also operating and providing ongoing services to the city. The Municipal Art Society of New York asked four firms to give it their best shot and envision the Penn Station of the future.
Gotham Gateway by SHoP Architect
SHoP Architects recently completed the Barclays Center – a combo basketball statdium, shopping center and transit hub, so they are definitely familiar with the intricacies of mixed-use centers in an urban environment. They suggest moving Madison Square Garden a few blocks to the west and allowing Penn Station to occupy its own site. The station itself would be bright, airy and easily navigable and at the center of a new district – the Gotham Gateway. Besides the new infrastructure needed for high speed transit and improved local transit, the concept also suggests the addition of new public park space and new private development to add more amenities to the area.
Penn Station 3.0 by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
DSR’s vision is Penn Station 3.0, the third version of the train station that centers around innovation and growth. After moving MSG to the west end of the Farley building, the new station would become a 24/7 hub for activity. Organized vertically, the station would be drenched with natural light and would be welcoming. Slower activities like, galleries, shops, high-end restaurants, spas, and parks would occupy the upper floors, while necessities and transit would be on the lower floors and easier to access in a rush. Public space would be incorporated throughout to create a new hub for Midtown.