Saturday, July 8, 2017

"Plan To Rebuild Penn Station" by Atelier & Co.

There's a nice recap on Gothamist on the "Plan To Rebuild Penn Station" by Richard Cameron, the principle designer at Atelier & Co.
A chalk pastel conceptual drawing of a rebuilt Penn Station by Richard Cameron. (Atelier & Company)
A chalk pastel conceptual drawing of a rebuilt Penn Station by Richard Cameron, Atelier & Company. Image c/o
Image c/o
Image c/o
Image c/o
I would also love to see the old Penn Station return, but I think any restoration plans need to take into account that a restored station needs to pay for itself, lest history repeat itself. The old Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) company couldn't monetize the original station enough. Some have attributed this to it's principal architect, Charles Follen McKim (of McKim, Mead, & White fame), who was allegedly a die-hard Classicist who thought high-rises were "anti-urban". Against PRR President Alexander Cassatt's initial wishes, McKim made sure that the final structure couldn't support a skyscraper that PRR could lease out, because such a structure would 'mar' the classical proportions of his building. While the original Penn had a lovely arcade inside that housed a few elegant shops, the the air rights of this low-rise but massive building could never be utilized for office or hotel space. Nor was there any room available for retail space on the street level outside.

By contrast the old New York Central Railroad's Grand Central Terminal complex was designed from the outset to allow for future high rises, such as the Helmsley Building and the MetLife Building, as well as accommodate street level retail space. And some would argue that GCT was better engineered to handle massive crowds and provide quick egress to/from curb to platform.

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