Invited by the Municipal Arts Society (MAS) and the Regional Plan Association (RPA), Woods Bagot has created an alternative design for the future of New York's Penn Station which would allow Madison Square Garden to remain in its current location above the station's entrance. The design, produced as part of MAS and RPA's report into the future of the station, the design was unveiled yesterday at Penn 2023: Where will the Garden Go?, the first session of the Municipal Arts Society's 2014 Summit for New York City, which discussed the possible options for the site at the end of Madison Square Garden's current 10-year permit.
Though the report by MAS and RPA favors the idea of moving Madison Square Garden - identifying Farley Post Office’s Western Annex and the Morgan Postal Facility and Annex as potential new sites - it also says that "there needs to be a Plan B... In the event a deal between the state, city, railroads and Madison Square Garden does not get done in the next eight years, there needs to be a plan for improving Penn Station and the surrounding district with the Garden still in place." This is where Woods Bagot's designs come in.
Read on after the break for more on Woods Bagot's proposal
One of the key features of the proposal is to remove the Garden’s 5,000-seat theatre on Eighth Avenue, allowing the entrance to Penn Station to be opened up with a grand entry hall, similar in size to that of Grand Central Station. This glass-encased expansion of the Garden's base also allows a secondary entrance to be added on Seventh Avenue and bringing street-level shopping and dining to the North and South facades of the building.
The size of this four-story glass expansion is designed to recall the civic scale of the original Penn Station building by McKim, Mead and White. On the roof of the expansion is a new public garden, while the bowl of Madison Square Garden itself is re-clad in timber to complement the rooftop's natural atmosphere.
Woods Bagot admits that the solution does not solve all of the design challenges: "Under this proposal, the arena’s floor remains several stories above grade, which adds to the Garden’s operation costs and constrains its use", they say. "In addition, a new location for the well-used theater is unresolved." The report by MAS and RPA also highlights the fact that any proposal which keeps the Garden in place "would likely be unable to address the severe limitations of the tracks and platforms." However, adds Woods Bagot, "though not a panacea, the strategy achieves many critical goals: endowing Penn Station with a fitting civic identity, significantly enhancing the passenger experience and remaking Madison Square Garden as a catalyzing centerpiece for a new district."
Last year, MAS enlisted Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture and SOM to imagine what Penn Station could become if Madison Square Garden were moved. See their proposals here: