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This Plot To Turn Penn Station Into a Futuristic "City Within a City" Gets It Right

The designers behind the High Line want to turn New York's train dungeon into an urban sponge.

by Kevin Holmes
Jun 1 2013, 5:57pm

Penn Station is a major intercity transport hub in New York and on Wednesday this week the Municipal Arts Society invited four firms to submit their proposals for its redesign. As well as creating a first class world-beating station, the firms were also asked to relocate Madison Square Garden which currently sits atop it.

The firms proposing designs were SOM, SHoP, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. All the designs were pretty wild, choosing futuristic-looking structures that would bring more light into the currently dark and cavernous space. H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture want to put a three acre garden on the roof along with elevated walkways. SHoP's design involves incorporating skylights and extending the High Line to connect the station to a relocated Madison Square Gardens, and SOM's proposal involved multilayered levels that included a park and making the site twice as large.

After turning a defunct railway line into an inner city oasis (the High Line), Diller Scofidio + Renfro's proposal for the new Penn Station was equally ambitious. They want to create a "city within a city" where the area is transformed into "a large sponge-like mass aerated in many directions." This complex structure would not only let in more light, but also create layers of cultural and leisure activity that could cater to different needs and turn waiting times into a positive experience.  Everything from a spa to a theatre, swimming pool, and rooftop park would be incorporated with food vendors walking around selling different products and train arrival and departure times projected onto platforms.

You can check out Diller Scofidio + Renfro's designs below.

And watch our documentary below where Diller Scofidio + Renfro discuss how they reinvigorate public spaces...


Originally posted at Motherboard's sister site, the Creator's Project.

High Line
Diller Scofidio + Renfro
penn station