In a city as densely populated New York, there’s bound to be some congestion. Penn Station sees over 640,000 travelers a day, making it the busiest terminal in the nation. This year, the Municipal Arts Society issued a design challenge to some of the best architectural firms in the world: to redefine rail commuting and create a new Penn Station that can accommodate the varied and increased demand of the next century.
H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture was one of only four firms chosen to present a design. Their submission includes features that would make Penn Station a hub of daily activity, a less-stressful oasis where harried travelers can enjoy green space and fresh air while waiting on their train.
The station’s 7th Avenue entrance would be completely revamped with a park that stretches for three blocks. The addition would establish an open green space in a part of Manhattan that currently has very few. Inside the main Train Hall, 120’ high, large skylights would capture daylight from above, giving rushing passengers a burst of Vitamin D and reducing energy consumption costs.
Above a planned interior retail space, a three acre stepped garden, with pedestrian and bike pathways, and a rooftop gallery space is accessible directly from 8th Ave. “It’s a sunlit horticultural garden, fragrant, colorful, and green, overlooking the west side with views of the river beyond,” explained the designers in their presentation.
And this spectacular revision of New York City’s most precious transportation icon is only a part of the plan. H3 also included expansion of transport capacity with eight new high-speed rails, and a new metro line that would connect Penn Station to a relocated (and redesigned) Madison Square Garden. The new design would, as Design Boom states, expand access to Manhattan’s West Side Underground, and with elevated pedestrian and cyclist pathways, free any type of commuter to easily reach the transportation hub.