Calatrava, DS+R, SHoP, SOM Asked to Imagine a Better Penn Station (Like the One 50 Years Ago)

Asking for a permanent extension of anything in New York City — especially of anything involving Manhattan property — seems a little shortsighted in a city that is in constant flux. But since Madison Square Garden‘s 50-year special land-use permit expired this past January, the indoor arena has asked to maintain rights to its midtown real estate atop Penn Station…forever. While this request is being processed for review this spring, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) and the Municipal Art Society (MAS) have put together a public campaign to limit the land-use permit to 10 years, reconsider the location of Madison Square Garden, and envision proposals to overhaul the dismal, congested, and subterranean Penn Station below the arena.

“RPA and MAS are calling on leaders of our city and region to seize a unique opportunity this year to envision substantial changes to Penn Station, where overcrowded and grim public areas have plagued hundreds of thousands of daily commuters for nearly five decades,” the two civic groups announced in a public statement. The concept in mind involves reducing the duration of the potential new land-use permit to 10 years, relocating Madison Square Garden after it expires, and designing a new Penn Station that is not buried beneath the gigantic space where the Knicks play and Justin Bieber sometimes performs.

According to the New York Times Arts Beat, New York City favorites Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and SOM have been tapped to envision a new station with the space, natural light, and impressive architecture afforded to the transit hub if Madison Square Garden were to be relocated. Perhaps New York City can regain what it lost 50 years ago when the McKim, Mead, and White-designed Pennsylvania Station was demolished. Ameliorating this half-century-long mistake will be a painful process, but living with the mistake for eternity frankly sounds worse.

Image: Photograph of McKim, Mead, and White’s old Pennsylvania Station waiting room, via.

- Kelly Chan