Unlike the stalled expansion of other New York subway lines, the number seven is making good progress. According to Shawn Kildare, senior vice president at the MTA, the project is ten months ahead of schedule and still under the set budget — two things that are practically unheard of in the New York construction world. Headed by engineers at Parsons Brinkerhoff and Dattner Architects, the extension will expand the line to Eleventh Avenue and 34th Street with hope that one day it could eventually go under the river to New Jersey.
At the moment, the 7 line originates in Flushing, Queens and transports commuters to its western-most point at Times Square. With the addition of the new station, the ill-served Javits Center and Hudson Yards project will see a new, easy alternative for commuters. Additionally, six trains will be added to the line easing the often overcrowded cars.
The new station is designed by Dattner Architects and will accommodate 25,000 commuters per hour. London’s Norman Foster–designed Canary Wharf station provided inspiration. Richard Dattner told the Architect’s Newspaper, “It had many of the same characteristics as this project, which is an extremely deep station requiring some very long escalator runs.” It will even feature an incline elevator, a first for New York City’s subway system. Like Canary Wharf, the station will open to an above-ground park which Michael Van Valkenburgh is designing.
To meet current safety codes that require substantial ventilation and exhaust ducts, the 35-foot wide arched ceiling will feature drop ceilings. The new station will also include incline elevators, another first for New York City. According to Dattner, “When you see a diagram of the cavern and the final station, something like 30 percent of the actual cross section will be used for exhaust and supply ventilation.” A nice relief from the often grit-covered platforms in many stations.
To add intrigue to the clean design, the entrance level will be adorned with art by Xenobia Bailey. Her 2,800-square-foot work will be a mosaic tile representation of her highly textured original work with hand-dyed yarns made from natural fibers such as wool, silk and cotton. “I want to bring some form of jubilation. It’s like a new beginning. When you come down the escalator, you’re going to be hit with the sun,” explained Ms. Bailey. Since 1985, the Arts for Transit program has supported the installation of about 230 works of art in subway and commuter rail stations. The MTA often dedicates 1% of project funding to public artwork which in this case will go to cover the estimated $900,000 to $1 million needed to carry out Bailey’s project.
If all goes according to plan, the 7 line could eventually extend out to New Jersey providing a solution to Chris Christie’s regional tunnel proposal that was squashed in 2010.