The Municipal Art Society recently commissioned and released four versions of a re-imagined Penn Station. It commissioned Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to prepare drawings of what a new terminal would like for the busiest train station in the country.
It has now come to light that actually a fifth concept was prepared but not presented at MAS’s “press conference.” The design by the firm Michael Sorkin Studio builds on MAS’s legendary 1970s protest against the destruction of Grand Central Station. In that protest Jacqueline Onassis famously joined forces with other powerful Manhattanites to stop a proposed Marcel Breuer high rise slated to be built above and across the southern front of Grand Central.
Sorkin’s proposal would build on Breuer legacy and move the Current Madison Square Garden from 33rd Street and place it atop Mr. Vanderbilt’s Grand Central that he claims would give the Dolan family—owners of the Garden—a “highly accessible new site for MSG.”
Hugh Hardy (H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture) in a widely circulated email has called for a wider discussion of his and the other proposals so that “informed public discussion and analysis will lead to recognition that the large scale problems presented by Penn Station require large scale thinking and funding.” If this does not happen he warns, “these ideas could easily be dismissed as “pie in the sky.”
In reality we have at least fifteen years until a new station can even begin construction and Mr. Sorkin’s garden in the sky has as much to offer as the other four designs. Let the informed public discussion begin.