In an effort to “unlock people’s imaginations” about Penn Station and Madison Square Garden, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has challenged Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and SOM to propose four new visions that exemplify the potential of the highly disregarded area.
The challenge comes amidst a heated debate on whether or not the city should restrict Madison Square’s recently expired special permit to 10 years, rather than in perpetuity as the arena’s owners – the Dolan family – has requested. This would allow time for the city to “get it right” and come up with a viable solution for the arena and station that, as NYTimes critic Michael Kimmelman states, would not only “improve the safety and quality of life for millions of people but also benefit the economy”. Think Kings Cross in London. With a thoughtful mix of public and private investments, the crime-ridden station was transformed into a thriving cultural destination that benefited all parties.
More after the break…
Kimmelman describes, “It’s not only that Penn Station, designed a half-century ago in a declining city for what seemed then an unlikely capacity of 200,000 passengers a day, is now handling more than twice that number. It is also a shabby, hopelessly confusing entry point to New York, a daily public shame on the city.”
In addition, with the development of the Hudson Yards and the third phase of the High Line, Penn Station’s will be faced with an unmanageable capacity that will negatively impact the entire West Side of Midtown Manhattan.
“The point isn’t deciding which possible site is best right now,” said Kimmelman. “It’s knowing there are paths worth pursuing, and focusing the next decade on exploring them.”
That Dolan family’s request, currently going through the city’s land use review process, is expected to hear a final decision by the City Council in late June or early July. In the meantime, MAS has requested that the enlisted firms complete their proposals by May 29. The designs will be unveiled to the public that day at the TimesCenter on West 41st Street (register here).