As New Yorkers celebrate Grand Central's Centennial, many might have forgotten, or perhaps never even knew, that the train terminal almost suffered the same fate as Penn Station and was nearly demolished in the late 1960s. This controversy made historic preservation a critical part of the conversation about development and the future of New York City. Grand Central "was a gift to preservation and left a legacy. By its influence, it will save other buildings in the future," said Frank Prial, Associate Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the firm responsible for the restoration of Grand Central. "It is our poster child for preservation." Prial mentions that the effort to save Grand Central Terminal "grew from great community service" and with the help of city leaders such as former Mayor Ed Koch, who recently passed away, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Over the years, there have been renovations and updates to the building. Prial was part of the team at Beyer Blinder Belle to work on the restoration, and recalls a significant decision—to construct a new staircase on the east side, which was included in the original designs by Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem, but was ultimately cut because the project was "running out of money and there was no place to go on east side because they filled with tenements and slaughter houses." While some of the more conservative preservationists doubted the necessity of the new staircase, Prial says that "there was more than just an architectural need for it, not only to uphold the architects’ original intent, but also to create access to this great space below and also to encourage ciruculation and in times of emergency." Few commuters might realize that this stairwell was only built in 1998—it fits naturally within the space, and as Prial points out, is in keeping with Beaux-Arts tradition. "People are simply not aware that this stair didn’t exist. It is simpler, cleaner and more modern than original on the west side."
Posts tagged with "Warren & Wetmore":
Happy Birthday Grand Central Terminal! Today the 49-acre train station is turning 100 and celebrating this grand 'ole affair with performances, events, and even a LEGO model of the Beaux-Arts style station itself, courtesy the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Station Master’s Office. Designed by Reed & Stern and Warren & Wetmore, the station is believed to be the largest station by number (44) of platforms in the world. In honor of the Centennial, some of the retail shops and restaurants are even dropping their prices to 1913 levels, so commuters can grab a piece of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar for 19 cents. The New York Times also fired up its own time machine, posting the original supplement from 1913 when Grand Central first opened to the public. (You can download the PDF here.)
This year's a big one for New York's Grand Central Terminal: On February 2, the Warren & Wetmore-designed train station will celebrate its 100th birthday. We expect to hear quite a bit about Grand Central all year long, as a massive rezoning effort takes shape around the Beaux Arts landmark. For instance, take a look at the Municipal Art Society's recent recent reimagining of the terminal by Norman Foster, SOM, and WXY. Now the United States Postal Service is getting on board with a stamp by artist Dan Cosgrove depicting Grand Central's main concourse. The Express Mail stamp carries a price tag nearly as big as the station itself, but like the trains running beneath Grand Central, it's sure to offer speedy transit. [Via Gothamist.]