Reimagining Penn Station

Page 1

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013

stu dio tea m


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, PPD (‘13)


Master of City Planning, PPD (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of Architecture / City Planning, STP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, PPD (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, PPD (‘13)


Master of Historic Preservation / City Planning, CED (‘14)


Master of City Planning, PPD (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of Architecture (‘13)


Master of Historic Preservation (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, STIP (‘13)


Master of City Planning, PPD (‘13)

PennDesign Planning Concentrations: (CED) Community & Economic Development; (PPD) Public Private Development; (STIP) Sustainable Transportation & Infrastructure Planning

Reimagining Penn Station


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The Penn Station Studio has been honored to receive a great level of support from many contributors, ranging from seasoned professionals to acclaimed scholars in the fields of urbanism, transportation planning, design, economics, and historic preservation.

We offer our sincere thanks to AECOM, Dan Rose, Mercator Advisors, Parsons Brinckerhoff,

PennDesign’s Office of the Dean, and PennDesign’s Office of City and Regional Planning, whose generous support sent our team to London for a week-long planning workshop in London, United Kingdom. Our team would also like to those who made our Spring Charrette – held in London from March 4-8, 2013 – a successful venture into the world of international transportation planning. We are grateful to Vincent Goodstadt, Former President of the Royal Town Planning Institute and Honorary Professor at the University of Manchester, for his organization of speakers, tours, and events, and to KPF Associates for generously providing with a space in which to work out our plans. The studio also thanks the many individuals who gave our team their knowledge, resources, and time to help us conceive of a Penn Station for future generations. We would like to recognize the following individuals whose creativity and support

penn faculty

elevated this project to a new level of success:


Dean and Paley Professor, PennDesign / Former Partner of Urban Design

and Planning Practice, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, LLP


Professor of Practice, PennDesign / President, Regional Plan Association


PennDesign / Vice President & Director, Econsult Corporation


Associate Professor of Urban Design, PennDesign


Lawrence C. Nussdorf Professor of Urban Research & Education, Chair of

the Graduate Group of City Planning, PennDesign


Crossways Professor of City & Regional Planning, Dept. Chair, PennDesign


PennDesign / Winthrop Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of

Western Australia

* Studio Instructors

Reimagining Penn Station


european associates & charrette participants iv


Former Secretary of State, Transport for the United Kingdom


Head of Urban Planning, City of Rotterdam


Chairman, Berkeley Homes


Director of Master Projects, John McAslan + Partners


Operations Executive, Canary Wharf Contractors Limited


Senior Fellow & Chairman of the Department of Planning and Urban Form,

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy


Transit-Rail Business Development Coordinator, AECOM


Land Use Planning Manager, Crossrail Limited


Projectregisseur Stadsprojecten, City of Antwerp


South & West Planning Team, Transport for London ( TfL)


Partner, Argent LLP


RTPI & ECTP Board Member & Hon. Professor, The University of Manchester


Associate Director, Network Rail Consulting


Director, Urban Design London


Secretary for Transport, The United Kingdom


Director, John McNulty Integrated Transport / Former Head of TfL

Interchanges Unit


Curator, Royal Institute of British Architects


Senior Fellow, Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California


Partner, Argent LLP


Regional Planner and Former Chief Planning, London Planning Advisory Committee


Head of Engineering and Operations, HS2 LTD


Former Research Associate, Sinstropher Project, University College of London


Coordinator Kennisuitwisseling, City of Antwerp


External Relations - Mobility, B-Holding (Belgian Railways)

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013

professional associates


Director of Planning, Regional Plan Association


Vice President, Strategic Development, AECOM


Principal, Frasca & Associates, LLC


Chief of Corridor Development, Amtrak


Senior Designer, AECOM


Architecture Critic, The New York Times


Senior Fellow for Urban Design, Regional Plan Association


Senior Officer of Outreach and Development for the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak


Vice President, Parsons Brinckerhoff


President, MTA Metro-North Railroad


President, H R & A Advisors


Co-Founder, Mercator Advisors, LLC


Senior Planner, Regional Plan Association


Associate Director, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, LLP


Executive Vice President, Dragados USA


Senior Fellow, Transportation, Regional Plan Association

The Studio Team additionally offers a special thanks to: LOWRI BANFIELD

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, London


Department Coordinator, PennDesign


Executive Secretary to the Dean, PennDesign

Reimagining Penn Station



Source: MCNY


PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


Studio Team.................................................................................................................................... i Acknowledgments.................................................................................................................iii Executive Summary..................................................................................................................2


Why Penn Station, Why Now?......................................................................................22 History of Penn Station......................................................................................................26 Existing Conditions...............................................................................................................30 Gateway........................................................................................................................................34 Meeting the Challenge.....................................................................................................36


Madison Square Garden..................................................................................................42 Transportation & Station Design



Resiliency in Design...........................................................................................90

District Design & Development


The Empire Center..............................................................................................96

Designing the Public Realm.......................................................................102

The Midtown West Innovation District..............................................112

Leadership and Financing...........................................................................................130 Funding Scenarios.............................................................................................................139 Phasing.......................................................................................................................................144


Next Steps................................................................................................................................152


Supplementary Material.................................................................................................A.1

Reimagining Penn Station



Tokyo. Antwerp. Beijing. Around the world, truly great train stations are a vital piece of the fabric of great cities. These stations Lofferondon. superior transit access, particularly with the advent of high-speed rail, providing commuters and intercity travelers an ennobling and exhilarating experience each time they enter or exit a train, while also catalyzing real estate development and offering a meeting place and commercial venue for the community. New York has one such station: Grand Central Terminal. But once, it had two.

To some, the original Penn Station, designed by

built from the tracks up to support next-generation

Charles McKim and operated through the first half

high-speed rail. Doing so will transform not only

of the 20th century, was the greatest train station

the immediate district around Penn Station, but the

not only in New York, but in the entire world. Its

economic future of the entire New York region.

demolition and replacement with the existing Penn Station (in the basement below Madison Square

And yet, why now?

Garden) has been cited as the origin of the historic preservation movement, and remains a sore subject

Plans to rebuild or redesign Penn Station have

for New Yorkers to this day.

been in development seemingly since the day the

The proposal that follows will not rebuild the

existing station opened. What makes this proposal

original Penn Station. Instead, this studio seeks

any different?

to do better for New York, constructing a global


gateway worthy of McKim’s legacy but grounded

Key to the concept of this studio is the idea that

in 21st century planning and design principles and

the re-imagination of Penn Station is no longer

Reimagining Penn Station

The Design

that will become the identity of the new Penn Station. It will be tall and spacious with a glass and

In order to address such a complex structure, where

steel roof bringing natural light inside. It will also

vertical circulation is as important as horizontal

have visual connections to Level A as well as to the

circulation and where each square foot must be

track and platform level, creating direct visual links

carefully programmed to the needs of multiple

between visitors and passengers with trains.

users, we conceived a sectional approach that begins at the base track and platform level and

The Gateway Hall will include and be surrounded

moves upwards to the city.

by high-end retail and restaurants as well as long distance and high-speed rail information kiosks

TRACK AND PLATFORM We propose two options for future service at Penn Station’s, which differ only in the course of phasing in the improvements and the degree of operations

and other associated conveniences for passengers. New concourses and connectors will help guide pedestrians headed east from Penn Station. STREET LEVEL

throughout construction. Both track and platform plans resolve issues related to safety and security

Currently there is no identity for the station at street

of passengers and add much-needed capacity to

level except for the stairs and escalators that take

Penn Station. The platforms are widened to 30’

passengers below. This plan proposes a grand new

and new egresses with escalators and elevators

hall and train shed that will establish an identity for

are introduced to address challenges of safety and

the new Penn Station. This new building will become

security. 4 new platforms and 8 new tracks - for a

a hub for urban regeneration in Midtown West

total of 8 platforms and 16 tracks - are added under

Manhattan. The plan proposes large public plazas to

Block 780 as part of the Gateway project. As phasing

create a pedestrian realm that will effectively handle

alternatives, the Long Island Rail Road tracks can

large pedestrian flows in and out of Penn Station.

remain as is or be widened to the new standard,

Retail and concessions will bring life to the sidewalks

contingent on LIRR service continuing at Penn

on 33rd and 31st Streets and also offer internal views

Station or the introduction of new MTA services.

overlooking the Main Hall of the station.


A Comprehensive Vision

On the Level A Concourse, a clear, high-capacity

The plan for Penn Station fundamentally redesigns

circulation system takes passengers from Platform

all four levels of the facility while enhancing

level to Level A and above. North-South Concourses

connections to nearby neighborhoods and districts

do not have any other use than public circulation and

on all sides. It adds much-needed capacity, brings

are kept clean of any visual clutter. These concourses

the station to contemporary safety and security

connect to the existing 33rd Street Connector and a

standards, and creates an iconic new station building

new 31st St. Connector; these act as wide corridors

with an enhanced and “ennobling” experience to

flanked by convenience retail for travelers on the

create a grand gateway.

move. The connectors will link existing subway stops at 7th and 8th Avenue on 33rd Street and new subway stops at 7th and 8th Avenue on 31st Street. New subway stops are designed to add capacity to already overburdened subway stops at 33rd Street while also reducing walking distance for users on the new platforms beneath Block 780. GATEWAY HALL LEVEL Level B will offer the iconic and memorable space


Reimagining Penn Station

Source: A. Rose, MCNY Collection


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

INTRODUCTION Our approach for designing a new Penn Station assumes that “world class cities require world class gateways.” But why Penn Station, why New York, and why now? In order to develop a plan for revitalizing Penn Station, we must first understand why a plan is necessary. The following analyses the station’s historical significance and relationship to the city, existing station and urban conditions, future transportation needs, and international precedents have led us to one overriding conclusion: this is Penn Station and New York’s moment in time. This concept serves as the guiding principle for our vision of a new Penn Station.

Reimagining Penn Station




orld class cities require world class gateways. As entrances to a city, train stations serve both a symbolic and prosaic function, acting as the entry point for regular commuters and occasional visitors while also reflecting the grandeur and vision of their cultures. Stations like Antwerp Centraal, Shinagawa Station in Toyko, and St. Pancras and King’s Cross in London are vital parts of the urban fabric, key transportation nodes, and manifestations of the past, present, and future of their cities.

New York City is no different. Grand Central Terminal

a marvel of Beaux Arts design, serving as a model

in Midtown Manhattan is one of the world’s great

for architects around the world. Its demolition as

train stations, offering commuters entering the city

part of a 1960s urban renewal scheme (including

through MetroNorth’s commuter rail service an

the construction of a new Madison Square Garden

ennobling and exhilarating experience. But riders

at street level) was judged a mistake even as it

on Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, or the Long Island

happened, and served as the catalyst for the historic

Rail Road face a different entrance to the city: the

preservation movement in New York and around

overcrowded, difficult to navigate, and aesthetically

the country.

unlovable Pennsylvania Station. Despite the cramped and uninviting experience


In the first half of the 20th century, Penn Station

provided by Penn Station today, more people enter

matched and arguably exceeded Grand Central as

the city through the station every day than from

an aesthetic and practical gateway to New York. The

all of the New York-area airports combined. A new

original station, designed by Charles McKim, was

Penn Station has the potential to impact the lives of

PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

Penn Station is the largest Amtrak hub, not only in Northeast Corridor, but across the nation

Source: Michael Hicks

New York City is the lynchpin of the Northeast Megaregion, an area of over 52 million people and $3 trillion in annual economic activity.

Source: PennDesign HSR Studio 2010

Reimagining Penn Station




he original Penn Station was a crowning achievement for the Pennsylvania Railroad. It was not only an architectural landmark but, indeed, a monument to technology. The original station was built at a time of technological innovation - electrified trains. Now over a century past that moment in time, we have reached yet another pivotal moment of innovation in the form of high-speed rail.

McKim’s Penn Station in its prime. For over 50 years, spanning 1910 to 1963, the Neoclassical monument was a prominent feature of New York City’s transportation and cultural identity.

Source: New York Public Library


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013



ver 600,000 commuters and travellers make their way each day into and out of Penn Station, making it the busiest rail station in the United States. Three operators - Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and New Jersey Transit - are forced to share an increasingly crowded and difficult to navigate maze of concourses and a limited number of tracks and platforms. At-capacity conditions mean longer dwell times, potentially unsafe levels of crowding, and inefficient operations. The station requires an intervention to achieve greater capacity, reliability, and resilience.

Pennsylvania Station is located in Midtown West

for development to draw commuters and travelers

Manhattan, bounded by 33rd Street to the north,

west toward new developments like the Hudson

31st Street to the south, 8th Avenue to the west,


and 7th Avenue to the east. The Farley Post Office Building faces Madison Square Garden across 8th

Beyond Penn Station’s role in New York City, it also


holds a vital place in a regional and national network of trains that extends both between New Jersey

Between the Penn Station and the Hudson River to

and Long Island and to points north and south

the west, underbuilt blocks fail to capitalize on their

along the Eastern Seaboard and beyond. Sustaining

development potential. A new station could have an

and expanding these links to and through Penn

immediate effect on surrounding real estate values.

Station, will ensure that these corridors continue

Rather than commuters reaching Penn Station and

to accommodate the growing needs of the region

walking east or immediately transferring to subways

throughout the 21st century.

to take them north or south, there is the potential


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

In addition, the station itself has been the focus of

The intentions of these plans have been incorporated

recent interest. AECOM’s Penn Station Visioning

into the comprehensive “one station” approach that

Study, the Moynihan Station Project, and the Gateway

we will set forth to improve the physical conditions at

Project are all proposals specific to redeveloping

Penn Station. This approach will allow for significant

Penn Station. AECOM’s Penn Vision study looks

operational improvement that does more than

at architectural and urban design elements from

bring infrastructure up to date and ensures that

the context of improving existing passenger and

Penn Station remains a vibrant transport hub.

train flows. The Moynihan Station Project looks at drawing Penn Station west and providing a gateway

Our proposal improves the passenger experience

experience, as well as much needed circulation

and offers a new level of connectivity by building

between platforms and street level.

upon Penn Station’s influential reach to better serve the populations and the economies in the region.

View of a busy concourse at Penn Station on the eve of Thanksgiving 2008

Source: hello turkey toe via Flickr


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013




ransforming Penn Station entails integrating transportation planning and investment well beyond the station’s footprint. Amtrak’s proposal to introduce world-standard high-speed service to America’s Northeast Corridor--currently under environmental review--will require new passenger services and expanded capacity at Penn Station, the lynchpin of the NEC system. Reliable and resilient rail services to and from Penn

Queens. Additional station capacity will be provided

Station are limited by capacity in the tunnels beneath

by the transformation of the existing Farley Post

Penn Station to points east, north, south, and west.

Office facility into a new part of the Penn Station

With train movements at capacity, additional space


will be required to introduce new transformative rail services through Penn Station.

Gateway is essential to providing the accessibility and reliability required to support commuter,

Amtrak is currently investigating the provision of this

regional, and high-speed rail services throughout

new capacity via its Gateway Program. Gateway will

the Northeast Corridor. The interventions that follow

construct two new Hudson River tunnels, as well

will take Gateway as a starting point for expansion

as expanded and enhanced interlocking, directly

both at the track and platform level and as a basis for

beneath the Penn Station. The Gateway Program

capacity expansion, which will impact the station at

begins in New Jersey at Newark, extending east

the concourse levels.

through Penn Station to the Harold Interlocking in


Reimagining Penn Station



ew York needs a Pennsylvania Station that acts as an urban landmark, a welcoming civic gateway encompassing both the past heritage of the lost station and modern transportation planning practices to meet increasing demands for capacity, efficiency, safety, and station experience. A new station will improve experience for high-speed and commuter rail while simultaneously revitalizing the surrounding community. By 2030, the reimagined station will provide residents and visitors with a distinctive destination and a physical testament to the greatness of New York City embedded within an active urban fabric.

In the space where historic Penn Station once stood,

a plan. Our plan incorporates a vision for the future

modern Penn Station offers a cramped maze of

of rail travel in and out of the station, a real estate

uninviting spaces that do not suit the transportation

program for Midtown West, and a funding, financing,

needs nor the aspirations of those who enter New

and project delivery strategy. This comprehensive

York City through its narrow subterranean corridors.

perspective was developed both through sitespecific analysis in New York City and international


The course of this studio project included

case studies, which were shaped into a vision with

initial analysis, a review of pressing imperatives,

contributions from a group of experts that included

consultation with experts in the field both in

public officials, academics and accomplished private

the United States and abroad, and finally the

sector consultants. These experts were well versed in

development of a set of key issues, a list of goals, and

the history of attempts to redesign Penn Station, as

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Source: M. Moran


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

INTERVENTION Having set the parameters of our proposal, the pages that follow outline our vision for a comprehensive transformation of New York Penn Station. This vision contains three key components: the clearance of the existing site and development of a new iconic station guided by historic precedent; reconstruction of track and platform-level infrastructure to alleviate congestion and provide capacity for new highspeed rail services; and a long-term real estate strategy for the area around the station, reimagined as an innovation district catalyzed by Penn Station’s enhanced connectivity to the region and the globe.

Reimagining Penn Station





adison Square Garden sits atop the current Penn Station, providing tremendous transit access for the facility’s sports and entertainment events. However, this access comes at a price: its precarious position makes renovations difficult and expensive, and the Garden is increasingly seen as a functionally obsolete venue. Madison Square Garden has moved in the past and, given New York’s need for both a monumental train station and a world-class entertainment center, should move again. MSG, completed in 1968, is in its fifth incarnation

The Penn Design studio team analyzed nine sites

on its fourth site. The original MSG was built in

in Manhattan that would be capable of holding an

close proximity to Madison Square Park in 1879 and

arena; all included two contagious blocks where

eventually moved to a site on 8th Avenue at 50th

no residential buildings or major commercial

Street in 1925. The current 20,000 seat arena was

establishments would have to be acquired/

build over Penn Station when the Pennsylvania Rail


Road, facing bankruptcy, demolished the aboveground portion of the station and sold the above-

The team narrowed these down to three sites

ground rights to developers.

(shown at right) that are all government owned, in close proximity to public transportation, and on sites


In addition to limiting the ability to expand Penn

that could accommodate a large arena. One of these

Station, Madison Square Garden itself is limited by

sites will provide a new Madison Square Garden with

its location; servicing conflicts are frequent, with

the ability to accommodate the New York Knicks

crowded loading docks and curbsides slowing the

and Rangers, large-scale concerts, and other events

flow of materials for events and limiting their scope.

in a state-of-the-art, transit-accessible venue.

Reimagining Penn Station



hysical design is one of the most important aspects of developing a vision for New Penn Station. Seeing the possibilities for change will help multiple stakeholders as well as the public at large understand the true potential of this project. It will also generate momentum and excitement for developing a new gateway to New York City, and the Northeast megaregion that is both ennobling and exhilarating.

The core of Penn Station’s redesign is to increase

Penn Station has a long and layered history. These

the station’s train capacity, thereby keeping the

incarnations of Penn Station also play a role in the

station for future ridership increases.

proposed design of New Penn Station. A detailed


Penn Station operates at capacity and without

historical analysis is included in this section.

expansion, the station will become obsolete. This proposed new design incorporates findings from

Finally, the technical findings from a detailed

an extensive analysis of the site, its history, and its

transportation analysis along with circulation and

existing conditions.

typology recommendations inspired by the original Penn Station lead to the section’s conclusion: a

This section begins with the state of transportation at Penn Station. The projections of future passenger counts, and the required additional train movements will guide the new design. This section then moves on to an architectural analysis of the existing Penn Station in terms of train and people circulation, building program, structure, and user experience.


Reimagining Penn Station

design concept for New Penn Station.

Existing Service The busiest rail hub in the United States, Penn Station, is currently running at maximum capacity. Three operators use the station proper: Amtrak, MTA Long Island Railroad, and New Jersey Transit, while the MTA Subway operates 6 lines along the

current conditions | transportation east and west edges. Every day during the morning

or a single operator, none of them take an extensive

and evening peak traffic hour, the 60-65 trains that

and comprehensive approach towards increasing

enter and leave the station are forced to jostle for

and balancing capacity for the station as a whole.

an available slot on one of the station’s 21 tracks. A

Our proposal incorporates the findings of these

single delay can have exponential effects, affecting

studies into one cohesive approach to maximize the

the commute schedules of tens of thousands of

benefits to the region.

commuters on an everyday basis. East Side Access, taking place across town in the Additionally, there is a real need for additional train

depths below Grand Central Terminal and under

movements to accommodate growing passenger

the direction of the MTA is planned for completion

demand. Amtrak, the regional and intercity rail

around 2020. This project will serve Long Island

service operating out of Penn Station, has shown

Rail Road by redirecting trains to Grand Central

unprecedented ridership growth over the past

Terminal instead of Penn Station. Once this new


However, due to capacity constraints

terminal opens at Grand Central and a significant

between Newark and New York City, Amtrak has been

number of trains currently entering Penn Station are

unable to increase frequency of service through this

diverted, there will be a window of opportunity for

central hub. New Jersey Transit has had a 62.5%

the reorganizing and diversifying operations at Penn

increase in ridership over the past two decades with

Station. While the demand for LIRR train operations

the highest percent ridership increases on the lines

at Penn Station will decrease, the new space will

to the north and west of Penn Station. In order to

provide the chance to add new services from other

provide one-seat rides into Penn Station that can

operators into Penn Station. For example, upon the

meet future demand from New Jersey; adjustments,

opening of East Side Access, Metro North Railroad,

reconfigurations, and additional tracks, platforms,

which currently operates all its West-of-Hudson

and tunnels that connects commuters and travelers

services into Grand Central Terminal, has proposed

to Manhattan need to be added to allow for more

rerouting some trains on its Hudson and New Haven

train movements per peak hour to enter the station.

lines into Penn Station via existing active rail track.

The existing tracks at Penn Station are prone to

Gateway, a proposal from Amtrak and Senator Frank

delays and difficult to operate reliably. This is due

Lautenberg (D-NJ) replaces the canceled ARC Tunnel

to the complexity of the operations including LIRR

project that would have opened an additional two

trains entering the station from both the West Side

tracks under the Hudson River, primarily for usage

Yard and Long Island, NJT trains from Sunnyside

by New Jersey Transit. In the Gateway plan, two

yards and New Jersey, and the high number of trains

new tracks, parallel the alignment of the existing

that currently drop off passengers, turn around, and

North River Tunnels under the Hudson, will end

return where they came from.

at a stub terminal between 30th and 31st Streets,

Operator Proposals In considering feasible options and suitable solutions to the ever-growing demands at Penn Station, it is important to consider the contributions of earlier

immediately south of the existing Penn Station. This would allow New Jersey transit to move most of its operations into this new terminal, increasing tunnel and platform space for Amtrak service.

plans for this popular station as well as for rail in the

Amtrak sees Gateway not only as a way to expand

Northeast Corridor. These proposals, one currently

capacity at Penn Station, but also as another step

under construction and the others representing

toward High-speed Rail, as detailed in Amtrak’s Vision

potential future changes to infrastructure and

for the Northeast Corridor and the Federal Railroad

operations, may significantly affect transportation

Administration’s NEC Future Plan. These plans

into and out of Penn Station in the coming decades.

suggest upgrading much of the greater Northeast

However, the proposals only examine the services

Corridor to true (220mph) high-speed rail in order to

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


facilitate economic growth and to encourage riders

Capacity has become a serious concern for Penn

to switch to more energy efficient and convenient

Station. The station will become the choke point

transportation modes.

when introducing new transit services if there is no build. This finding is derived from a series of

Taking these outside proposals into consideration, as

ridership projections on each of the existing services

well as the demands for access at Penn Station and

that currently utilize Penn Station. These projections

projected population growth, our design introduces

use census and ridership data to estimate ridership

significant physical and operational transformations

growth based on population growth in origin

to meet growing transportation demands.

counties for commute trips. For NJT and LIRR

Taking these proposals into consideration, as well as the demands for access at Penn Station and

ridership projections, the Regional Plan Association’s estimates were used.

projected population growth, this report proposes

A combination of Amtrak ridership projections by

significant physical and operational changes to

Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and population

meet future transportation demands.

projections for MSAs in the Northeast Corridor found relatively conservative passenger increases for

Modeling Demand Growing demands for access to the station from the northeast (Queens/Hells Gate Bridge/Connecticut), the southwest (New Jersey), and the north (Empire Connector) require additional tracks that will allow for increased train movements in and out of Penn Station. The most immediate needs are from the southwest, where only two tracks continue under the Hudson, and the north, where only one track on the Empire Connector serves Penn Station.

Peak-Hour Riders

Two sets of projected ridership compared with the existing person and train movements capacity.


Reimagining Penn Station

Amtrak. Metro North data for the New Haven Line and Hudson Line was used to build a latent demand model for potential ridership to Penn Station if new regional service was introduced. Air shift data included variables such as travel time and trip frequency to calculate the number of passengers that would be drawn to rail with improved service provision. The “Projected Ridership-No Build� does not include the increase brought by the introduction of faster

Investments in new infrastructure—a new track and

An expanded Penn Station at the center of the

platform plan on the current Penn Station site, an

Northeast Corridor will permit significant increases

extension of the tracks to the 780 block to the south,

in frequency of train service to destinations as far

and additional tunnels leading into the station—

south as Virginia and as far north as Massachusetts.

address the immediate demand and alleviate the

These services, which can eventually be expanded

constraints on the current restrictive limits to service.

or rebuilt as true high-speed rail corridors, would be

These service improvements will reduce current

defined by the quantity (frequency), reliability, and

dwell times, increasing the total number of trains per

quality (customer experience) of services offered.

hour. We estimate that an average of 15-20 minute

Upon completion of the new tunnel and track plan,

dwell time per train could be reduced to 5 minutes

new Metropolitan Services will drastically change

per train for commuter service and 8 minutes per

process of travelling between cities along the

train for regional service. Peak hour departures can

greater Northeast Corridor, and will induce sizable

increase from 60-65 to approximately 130 trains per

latent demand, as more drivers and bus-riders

hour, once new tracks are built on the 780 block

would shift to increased, more reliable, and faster rail

directly south of Penn Station, and increase to 170


trains per hour once the tunnels connecting block 780 to Long Island are built.

The Metropolitan Services are defined by a few standard metrics.

First, all routes are under 500

With these physical improvements and with

miles, or 8 hours trip time at current speeds. This

interagency cooperation, through services can also

eliminates needs for full crew changes, sleeping

be introduced. Instead of incoming trains from LIRR

cars, and baggage cars. Second, ticketing could be

and NJT terminating at Penn Station, commuter

streamlined through simplification of pricing and

trains could run from New Haven to Trenton or

reservation policies. Due to the short distance nature

Philadelphia, from Northern New Jersey to Long

of their routes, ticket prices could be standardized

Island, and from Poughkeepsie to Long Island.

by travel class—general, business, and first—as well

This would decrease layover times at Penn Station

as distance.

and provide more one-seat options, stimulating economic growth for the region.

The price of a ticket would not vary based on date of purchase or seats filled, but rather would be set similar to most commuter train operations in the

Phasing plan of train movements

United States, with a base fare and a zone or mileage fare from origin to destination. This would not only make the operation of these services more efficient but would also draw people to choose trains whenever they choose to travel, as last minute fares would be priced the same as fares purchased far in advance. This commuter rail style ticketing system would also allow for easier boarding and alighting processes along the corridor, putting an end to long lines and early arrival requirements. This report suggests implementation of three initial routes, which will serve many of the popular business and leisure travel destinations within 300 miles of New York Penn Station. The first, which will carry the highest level of service, replaces today’s Amtrak Northeast Regional route with travel from Boston, MA to Alexandria, VA. Along its route are 23


Reimagining Penn Station

stops in 9 states and the District of Columbia. This will include seven points where riders can easily transfer to trains on one of the other Metropolitan Services. The other two services will introduce one seat travel options not currently offered by any rail service. One of these routes will travel from Harrisburg, PA to Boston, MA using the Keystone Corridor from Harrisburg to Philadelphia, the Northeast Corridor from Philadelphia to New Haven, and the Inland Route from New Haven to Boston. The other will link Albany, NY to Ronkonkoma on Long Island using the Empire Service Corridor from Albany to New York and the Long Island Rail Road Main Line from New York to Ronkonkoma. The Harrisburg-Springfield-Boston line will serve up to 25 stops in 5 states, and will be complemented by a variety of existing and new commuter rail services along the same corridors provided by SEPTA, New Jersey Transit, Metro North Railroad, ConnDOT, and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. The Albany-New York-Ronkonkoma Line will serve 11 communities and directly connect Long Island with



The narrow platforms and limited available tracks


lead to overcrowding, and safety and security


concerns especially during peak hours. Our research and projections indicate that these issues are likely to worsen if no action is taken. Any expected growth in ridership will create more congestion and more delays as operational efficiency declines. Our plan considers how to remedy the choke point of Penn Station by introducing additional tunnels and rethinking train movements and pedestrian circulation patterns from the track level up. By making these improvements, the project has region-wide influence on travel patterns. To realize the full potential of Penn Station, the physical design of the tracks, platforms, and the tunnel system that feeds into them must be reworked. Capacity of the station must be balanced with the need to operate reliably and offer an acceptable level of service for passengers.

These improvements will allow

Penn Station to transform into a global gateway, improving the travel experience for all passengers, from daily commuters to world travelers.

the rest of New York State. These three routes serve many of the most populated areas and largest economies in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, and will also help Penn Station

Diagram of a potential intercity Metropolitan Service

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current conditions | architecture Penn Station today faces multiple challenges. The evolution of Penn Station’s site over the last century, from traditional Victorian block development at the turn of the 19th century, to an architectural statement of classic grandeur in 1910, and finally to the modernized circus and tower scheme still seen today.

Around 600,000 people travel through Penn Station each day, reliant on the approximately 60 trains per hour that operate through the station. Many projections indicate that this number will grow by more than 50% in coming years. However, Penn Station is functioning almost at capacity and has no scope for further expansion it unless it undergoes a Pre 1900





faces the challenge of meeting the demands of increased transportation infrastructure capacity, while also improving upon experience, security, and programming. While we often look to the historic station for inspiration for the future, we must recognize that not all aspects of the Victorian station worked perfectly. Thus the challenges facing Penn Station today have become opportunities to once more improve upon the ecosystem of transportation in New York City.

1910 - 1963

We must also acknowledge those aspects of the external environment that influence, support, and constrain Penn Station’s growth. The chart on the following page depicts these “immovable entities,” which must be understood as vital elements of the next iteration of Penn Station.

Train Circulation Three different train operators currently use Penn station: Amtrak operates long distance trains while 1963 - Present

Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and New Jersey Transit (NJT) operate shorter commuter routes. Most LIRR trains use the northernmost platforms, while Amtrak uses the central three to four platforms and NJT uses those at the south end of the level. Although there are no strict platform or track numbers assigned to each operator, the track and platform level generally operates with LIRR distinct and Amtrak and NJT intermingled. Platform sharing helps maximize existing track and platform capacity; however, as platforms are assigned just minutes before departure, it also creates confusion for passengers.



Reimagining Penn Station

A vertical diagram highlighting immovable entities, or those elements that impact Penn Station that will not be altered by the new plans.

Pedestrian Circulation The tracks and platforms are 44’ below street level.

Combined with a complex signage system and

All passengers must navigate three levels before

the mixing of back-of-house and retail services,

they can reach their train. Levels A (Exit Concourse),

pedestrian circulation at Penn Station is a labyrinth

B (Waiting Hall Level), and C (Street Level) are shared

that even the most regular passengers have a hard

by all passengers regardless of which train service

time navigating.

they use. The original Penn Station also established three However, most regular passengers tend to use a set

levels to reach the tracks and platforms. However,

circulation path or zone of the station corresponding

the original design used visual connectivity as well

to the train service, time of day, and destination.

as transparency between levels to develop a clear

Pedestrian circulation patterns have been drastically altered since the demolition of the historic station in 1963. The following diagrams compare the navigation patterns of the old and existing iterations of Penn Station.

circulation system that was intuitive to even the Lack of visual connectivity and transparency as well

most unfamiliar visitor. The dramatic glass and steel

as unclear circulation make all levels unfriendly for

roof of the train room and the clerestory light of the

passengers and visitors. The Exit Concourse, Central

ticket hall brought natural light into all the spaces,

Concourse and NJ Transit Concourse are not well-

helping people to navigate the facility. This task was

connected and do not form a clear network, which

made similar by the original Penn Station’s lower

would help guide passengers intuitively through the

passenger count, allowing it to function with smaller

circulation system.

concourse and waiting areas.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


h i s t o r i c

Train and Pedestrian Circulation Diagrams

Generous capacity of the old track layout

Identity and clarity for arriving passengers


Reimagining Penn Station

c o n t e m p o r a r y

Additional vertical circulation, but no increase in the number of tracks

Additional circulation and waiting areas for commuters is functional, but overcrowded

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


h i s t o r i c

Conventient transfers for arriving passengers

Grand entrances for departing passengers


Reimagining Penn Station

c o n t e m p o r a r y

All corridors are below grade and highly crowded

Awkward corner entrances; no public realm, no station identity, and limited retail options

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


h i s t o r i c

Through connections, clear distinction between departures and arrivals

c o n t e m p o r a r y

Separation by operators, ad hoc solutions, and absence of overarching vision


Reimagining Penn Station

Program Current Penn Station is on 4 levels, 3 of which are

square feet in area. It has 2 major north-south

below grade. The bulk of the building program is

concourses, along with a narrow central corridor

across 2 levels.

that terminates in the middle. These connect to the 33rd Street connector, providing access to subways

Level A is the concourse level. It was the exit

located on 7th and 8th Avenues. Apart from public

concourse level in the old Penn Station. It currently

circulation, back end offices, mechanical and

functions as the main circulation level and is 350,260

support services fill the rest of the level.

Level B | 336,350 SF

Level A | 350,260 SF

Level B + A | 686,610 SF

Charting the programming break down for Level B (Main Waiting Hall) and Level A (Concourse).

Existing Space Programming and Allocation Track & Platform Level

Source: HOK / Parsons Brinckerhoff, 2007


Reimagining Penn Station


Level B was the original main waiting hall level and

services, there will be demand for more space to

still has the Amtrak waiting hall. Currently it is 336,350

accommodate their growth. If this demand has to

square feet in floor area. Central circulation space

be met within the existing building footprint, it will

is surrounded by retail along with other support

further detract from the passenger experience.

services and offices. As ridership has grown over the years and more Level C is the street level, but Penn Station is almost

people and trains pass through Penn Station, the

non-existent here; 2 Penn Plaza and Madison

building program has steadily grown as well. An

Square Garden dominate the streetscape. Small,

increase in back end offices, mechanical and service

inconspicuous entrances at the corners take people

areas have been accommodated within the existing

from already crowded sidewalks directly into Penn

building footprint. This has led to an increase in

Station at Level B without a grand station experience.

congestion and resulted in a mix of uses that are not necessarily compatible with each other. Separate

Public circulation is 30% of Level A and B combined.

locations for Amtrak, NJT and LIRR passenger

However, the bulk of space is taken up by mechanical

facilitates and services have lead to inefficiencies

and support services and Amtrak facilities. They

in circulation as well as underutilization of building

both account for 24% each, while NJT and LIRR only


account for 5% each. As ridership grows on these

Existing Level A (Street Level) programming plan.

Source: HOK / Parsons Brinckerhoff, 2007


Reimagining Penn Station

Structure and Experience As currently constructed, Penn Station is essentially

space, preventing the introduction of skylights to

two separate structures: Madison Square Garden and

enhance the user experience.

2 Penn Plaza atop a subterranean Penn Station. This presents a significant challenge to the expansion of

Structures in the station area between 33rd and 31st

Penn Station. In particular, the columns supporting

Streets and Seventh and Eight Avenues currently

the Garden are a major hindrance to upgrading or

depend on 1162 columns. An efficient structure

expanding tracks and platforms. Overbuilt structures

should need only a quarter of that number.

also hinder expansion of concourse areas and ceiling heights as well as the introduction of natural light.

Mechanical systems are scattered throughout the

Columns supporting the subways under 7th and 8th

with each piecemeal renovation. These outmoded

Avenues present a further challenge, complicating

and inefficient building systems present a formidable

pedestrian circulation. These columns hinder the

challenge to any vision to establish a grand gateway

expansion of concourse areas and clearance of

and world-class user experience at Penn Station.

building, with ad hoc additions being added into

Images of the current structural composition of Penn Station.

Sources: J. Appelar; M. Moran

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harles McKim’s design of Penn Station was magnificent, and its loss is still felt by many New Yorkers and architecture enthusiasts everywhere. There is much to be learned from the original design, but it is difficult to preserve something that has been lost. Penn Station was a building of its time; to reconstruct it now would be anachronistic and inappropriate. Rather, we can learn from the past and apply these lessons to the design of a new station.

One of the major techniques employed by McKim

McKim used light, materials, style, and volume

is the processional quality of the spaces. Each area

to evoke different feelings in each space. These

clearly indicates its function and leads into the next

components can help to form the basis of the

space. The design separates the traveller from other

vocabulary for the new station in a way that respects

movement paths such as baggage handling and

the original but is still oriented toward the future.

maintenance and allows them to move through the

Using these facets to analyze each space, we used

station unimpeded.

historic plans, sections, photographs, and written source material to understand not only how the

In order to get a better sense of how McKim defined

elements applied to each space, but how they aided

these rooms, we conducted an analysis of the

what did and did not work.*

spaces in the original station. We identified four distinct spaces that each possess unique qualities

Based on this assessment, we extracted the most

that served the specific purposes of each node of

fundamental aspects of the historic station that

the historic station.

served as the crux of its character. These have been restated as architectural design princples that allow

The floor plan and section located on the opposite page display McKim’s historic station design, and the distinct articulation of space.

These rooms (seen on the right) are identified as:

future design to respect and recall the historical

(1) the concourse, where passengers accessed the

identity of Penn Station.

tracks; (2) the main waiting hall, which served as the grand Neo-Classical interior space; (3) the vestibule, which served as a transitional space between the transit and shopping spaces of the station; and (4) the arcade - the station’s true entrance from 7th Avenue - an indoor avenue of shops. * Full analysis located in Appendix


Reimagining Penn Station





There are three objectives related to transportation. First, the station creates a functional train station that is built to modern safety and security standards. Second, it is designed to have sufficient capacity and interoperability between various train services. Third, the design transforms Penn Station into a hub that integrates regional transit into one transportation system. It connects seamlessly multiple transit modes including long distance / high-speed rail, metropolitan rail, commuter trains, subways, buses, taxis, bikes and pedestrians.


The Penn Station Master Plan transforms the existing Penn Station into an active urban center in Midtown West Manhattan. It is designed as part of a larger master plan that encourages mixed-use, high-rise, high-density development around the station as well as overbuild at strategic locations. Significant public space will front the new Penn Station, creating a pedestrian realm that will serve as an area-wide amenity.


The design for new Penn station not only resolves issues related to transportation but creates a grand gateway which will be an ennobling and exhilarating experience to any user of the station. The design brings in the public realm to create grand spaces inside the station through the provision of retail and other amenities. This plan strives to recreate the spirit of the original Penn Station as a grand indoor public room, but expresses it in contemporary language.


Reimagining Penn Station



capacity improvements The layout of platforms and tracks of a train station

Among the 8 platforms, the three platforms in the

impacts the available capacity, the boarding

north zone are 1050 feet long. They will serve the

experience of passengers, and user safety in case of

12-car commuter trains of Long Island Rail Road.

emergency. The existing platforms at Penn Station

The two platforms in the middle are the longest

have an average width of 20 feet and some parts of

platforms with 1350 feet, which could be used for

the platforms are as narrow as 14 feet. The narrow

high-speed rail service. The other 2 platforms are

width of platforms has caused serious problems in

1200 feet; they are planned for Amtrak intercity

terms of passenger circulation and loading time.

service. The southernmost platform in Penn Station maybe used for Empire Service.

The envisioned track and platform plan resolves issues related to safety and security of passengers

The first option is an ideal scenario where all platforms

and adds much needed capacity to Penn Station.

are widened to 30’ and phased in such a manner

The platforms are widened to 30’ and new egresses

that the station can remain operational throughout.

with escalators and elevators are introduced to

The second option maintains the existing platforms

address challenges of safety and security. Four new

9, 10, and 11 as they are. These are mostly used by

platforms and eight new tracks - for a total of 8

Long Island Rail Road, utilizing the East Side tunnel

platforms and 16 tracks - are added under Block 780

under 33rd Street. However, all platforms south of

as part of the Gateway project.

platform 9 are widened to 30’.

The station operates mostly in three zones related

Option 2 has the potential to be upgraded later, with

to train services as well as tracks and platforms that

platforms 9, 10, and 11 widened to conform with

are served by East Side tunnels under 32nd and 33rd

contemporary standards. Hence, Option 2 can be

Streets. Two options are designed as part of the new

viewed as a final build-out, with Option 1 acting as

track and platform plan.

a phasing stage.

Plan for the existing track and platform level.


Opposite Page: includes plans for the two proposed strategies for redesigning the transportation infrastructure of Penn Station.


Reimagining Penn Station


PennDesign Planning Studio 2013




circulation & connectivity Level A has been designed as a concourse level.

on 30th and 31st. These connectors act as wide



corridors with commuter-targeted (“grab and go”)

based on current locations of the Exit Concourse,

retail. These connectors connect existing subway

Central Corridor, NJ Transit Concourse, and West

stops at 7th and 8th Avenue on 34th Street and new

End Concourse in the Farley Building. These

subway stops at 7th and 8th Avenues on 30th Street.

concourses connect to East-West connectors under

New subway stops are designed to add capacity

30th, 31st, and 33rd Streets. Four concourses and

and relieve already congested subway stops at 34th

three connectors form a clear grid that enhances

Street The new subway stops also help to reduce

connectivity and access and makes the circulation

walk times for commuters from new platforms

system intuitive to passengers.

beneath Block 780.

There is a clear circulation system that takes

The central concourse at level A also has a waiting

passengers from Platform level to Level A and above.

area for long distance travelers, which is directly

North-South Concourses do not have any other use

connected to the Main Hall on Level B. The east

than public circulation and are kept clear of any

side and west side concourses will become primary

visual clutter. These concourses connect to the

circulation routes for commuters connecting to

existing 33rd Street connector and new connectors

33rd St. and 31st St. connectors. The egress stairs


Axon (left) and plan (above) for a new Concourse Level.


Reimagining Penn Station



and escalators are designed so that northern and

and future train operators.

southern zone platforms, which would be primarily Long Island Rail Road and NJ Transit operation zone

West and East concourses are extended through

respectively, will be directed towards streets and

the basement of One Penn Plaza and open into

concourses to facilitate quicker movement towards

34th Street at mid-block location between 7th and

subway stops under 7th and 8th Avenue.

8th Avenue. This will help in seamlessly connecting trains, subways and 34th St. Select Bus Service (SBS).

The egress stairs and escalators for the central zone, which would be primarily long distance and high-

There are many cutouts at level A as well as Level

speed rail, are directed towards central concourse

B that help create a sense of high space and bring

and main hall on Level B. However, it is possible to

natural light into the station via skylights on the glass

change direction at concourses on Level A, making

and steel roof. This will also create visual connectivity,

the station inter-operable between various current

helping circulation to be more intuitive.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013




user experience & access Level B is the waiting level. This would be a

The main hall will be flanked by high-end retail and

memorable space that would become the identity

restaurants as well as long distance and high-speed

of New Penn Station. It will be high with a glass and

rail passenger facilities. The main hall will have more

steel roof that brings natural light into the interior

retail than any other level, allowing for continuous

of the station. It will also have visual connectivity to

breadth of retail.

Level A as well as track and platform level, creating a direct visual connection between visitors and

The waiting level will also include ticketing and

passengers at the platform level.

information spaces and waiting areas. Additionally, an existing 33rd Street concourse connecting 7th

The importance of a direct visual connection

Avenue and Herald Square, which was previously

between Level B and other levels of the station

closed off, will be reopened to create more space

cannot be understated. Allowing visitors to view

in the interior of the station and allow for greater

the platform level from upper levels will allow


passengers to wait for their trains without standing

concourse will be built below 31st Street, extending

at the platform level. This increases the efficiency

to Herald Square. Increasing connectivity to Herald

of the station by removing standing passengers

Square will provide those that want to avoid the

from the platform (as well as space in critical areas),

stress of walking through the midtown area a

improving circulation, and decreasing dwell times.

shortcut. This will also signify a marked improvement

Axon (left) and plan (above) for a new Main Hall Level.


Reimagining Penn Station





in pedestrian flows from the station to surrounding

The experience of descending into the main hall

transportation hubs and connections.

through a carefully designed set of wide stairs is remarkably different from the experience of

Finally, there will be grand wide stairs and escalators

descending into a subway station with very little

connecting the Main Hall to Street Level (Level

space to accommodate multiple passengers. The

C). These stairs will connect public plazas and

purpose of this design is to further the feeling of a

entrances at 7th and 8th Avenue as well as mid-

welcoming grand entrance that extends itself from

block entrances on 31st and 33rd Street. This type of

the street level down into the waiting level in a

entrance is reflective of the historical Penn Station,

continuous and welcoming procession that shows

where passengers entered the entrance through a

visitors a way to enter into the heart of the city.

set of wide stairs and immediately descended to a main hall with a grand open space.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013




identity & public realm The public realm design for a new Penn Station

it on 7th and 8th Avenues. A mid-block public

envisions a dramatic transformation from existing

passage is designed from 30th to 31st Street to

conditions. This plan proposes a grand new head

create an alternate pedestrian circulation path that

house and train shed that will become the identity

opens into a midblock entrance to the main Penn

for new Penn Station, serving as a hub for urban

Station building.

regeneration in Midtown West Manhattan. The plan proposes large public pedestrian plazas to establish

The plaza on 8th Avenue will be more civic in scale.

a public realm that will effectively handle large

The grand stairs of the Farley Post Office will be used

pedestrian flows in and out of Penn Station.

as a public space that flows across 8th Avenue into a new at-grade plaza that connects public entrances

These plazas are designed along 7th and 8th

through a grand canopy into Penn Station. 8th

Avenues between 30th and 33rd Streets. The Penn

Avenue between 30th and 33rd Streets will be

South facility will also has pedestrian plazas fronting

redesigned with cobblestone pavement and other

Axon (left) and plan (above) for Penn Station at Street Level.


Reimagining Penn Station

traffic calming measures to prioritize pedestrians.

The new skyscraper would act as a modern head

The plazas will also introduce soft landscaping

house, giving definitive identity for Penn Station in

and green infrastructure elements, along with

the New York skyline. A similar skyscraper is planned

programmed hardscape areas with cafes and

on top of the Farley West Extension, maintaining the

restaurants. There will be a direct connection to High

historic building and faรงade at street level.

Line Park from the 8th Avenue Plaza by extending the High Line along 30th Street. An additional grand

31st and 33rd Streets will be used primarily as

canopy and public entrances on 7th Avenue will

taxiways, with the mid-block entrances between 7th

lead into retail space below the new skyscraper at

and 8th Avenue clearly marked as taxi priority zones.

the current location of 2 Penn Plaza.

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exterior | 31st street & 8th avenue


Reimagining Penn Station

interior | main gateway hall


Reimagining Penn Station

New Station Drawings

Renderings EXTERIOR | 31st Street & 8th Avenue The exterior vantage shows the new station’s interaction with the public realm as it meets 31st Street and 8th Avenue. It is designed to facilitate both the everyday traffic and pedestrian use patterns, as well as support special events and festivals. The purpose is to emphasize the fact that our design is not solely for the station, but also for the entirety of Midtown West. The new plaza is modern and yet historic; heritage is honored in retaining the visual correlation between the station and the Farley Building as McKim intended. The grand colonnade and stairs of historic Farley building thus flow into cobblestone 8th Avenue between 31st and 33rd Street, incorporating traffic calming techniques to prioritize pedestrian experience and safety. This space flows into a pedestrian plaza fronting the entrance of New Penn Station. New soft landscape as well as programmed hardscape fronts the station. The grand canopy will flows into the foyer and the grand interior of new Penn Station Main Gateway Hall.

INTERIOR | Main Gateway Hall The interior rendering depicts the perspective from inside the new Main Gateway Hall, looking to the west. Magnificent neoclassical colonnade of Farley Building can be seen from the inside the Station. People standing at the entrance and gallery space will experience the monumentalism inherent in the new design. The Main Gateway Hall itself is populated with new retail, amenities, information, and historic tokens; and unlike its Gilded Age predecessor, the new area includes seating to provide users with a place to actually wait. Natural light and visual understanding are conducted downward from the new roof and open wells, lighting and enlivening the reclaimed space. It is through this glass roof that the new Penn Station announces itself as a true “gateway,” establishing not only the connection for passengers out into the city but for the City of New York to reach into the station.


Reimagining Penn Station


Main Gateway Hall

Longitudinal sections are used show the relationship

The longitudinal section through the Main Gateway

between the various levels and how they connect to

Hall demonstrates how the public realm flows into

the streets. They also illustrate how the circulation

the station. The pedestrian plazas on 7th Ave. and

system navigates various levels punctuated by

8th Ave. flow into the entrance foyers and through

grand interior spaces.

the grand stairs into the Main Hall on Level B.

Section depicting the train shed’s nexus - the Main Hall.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


Circulation Patterns

the west extension of the Farley Building. These skyscrapers would become the identity of Penn

The remaining two longitudinal sections show

Station in New York skyline.

the two movement patterns through the station. Circulation along the long distance platforms is


directed towards the main hall where there will be high-end retail and long distance passenger

Cross sections (located on the following two pages)

facilities. The Commuter section is designed such

show the relationship of the roof structure and

that the circulation takes commuters to the subway

the interior spaces. The 3-vaulted wave roof is a

stops and street level on 7th and 8th Avenues.

contemporary interpretation of traditional Victorian barrel vaulted train shed. It expresses the smaller

These sections also show the possibility of overbuild

spaces at the entrance as well as the various platform

in the location of current 2 Penn Plaza and over

zones that the station operates in.

Section depicting the circulation of high-speed commuter train user movement throughout the station.


Reimagining Penn Station


Main Gateway Hall

The concourse section also illustrates the retail

The cross section through main hall has a large

strategy. Retail is designed on three levels: shopping

span single vaulted roof. This expresses the large

on level A is oriented towards 33rd and 31st Street

space that it houses - the Main Hall. It also shows the

connectors and is geared towards commuters; retail

midblock entrances on 31st and 33rd Streets, and

on Level B fronts the main hall and is high-end retail;

how they connect through the grand stairs to the

on the street level, shops front the sidewalks of 33rd

Main Gateway Hall on Level B.

and 31st Streets.

Section depicting the circulation of high-speed rail and long distance ridership user movement throughout the station.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


Cross section of the new station, cutting through at the Concourse section.


Reimagining Penn Station

Cross section of the new station, cutting through at the Main Hall.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


Irradiance Diagrams*

The conclusion that can be drawn from these studies is that with this design, a fair amount of light

The following are irradiance studies that show the

does enter the station, including the lower Level

amount of natural light that enters the different

A and Platform levels. Although artificial lighting is

levels of the station. The purpose of this set of

still necessary, a fair amount of light does enter the

diagrams is to analyze whether the voids that we

station, including the platform level, during the

designed actually serve to bring natural light into

spring, summer and autumn seasons.

the interior of the station.

Sketches depicting the filtration of natural light down from the roof through each of the levels of the new station in early spring.

Level C - Street Level

Level B - Main Gateway Level

Level A - Concourse Level

Track & Platform Level * Full irradiance included in Appendix



The preceding design for a new Penn Station

City. Finally, it is designed as part of larger urban

addresses three major issues. First, it creates a

design master plan with added public space that

modern train station with contemporary safety

includes pedestrian realm around the station.

and security standards. It is designed for adequate

This design will help transform Penn Station not

capacity to handle multiple train operators. The

only into a seamlessly connected intermodal

design also creates a grand gateway to New York

transportation hub but also an active urban center.

Reimagining Penn Station


P 1 G AT E W AY & FA R L E Y

This phase will essentially prepare the area for Phase II. Included is the completion

of the Farley Post Office renovation to be temporarily used as a primary train hall, the building of the Gateway Tunnel project to a new station underneath block 780, to be called Penn South, and the extension of new passageways to circulate traffic around the current Penn Station site. Meanwhile, necessary relocation of Madison Square Garden will occur, with movement of offices and demolition of Two Penn Center for rebuild.



The most significant phase of the project will span four stages. During this process, sets

of four tracks and two platforms at Penn Station will be closed and rebuilt from basement to street level. This will include the widening of sub-basements and construction of new columns and floors overhead. Resulting from this phase will be the completion of the new Penn Station Site with wider platforms and a new head house. At this point, two new tracks will be built to connect the Empire Connector to the northern tracks near 33rd Street.



Following the opening of the new Penn Station, the stub end tracks at the Penn South

Station will be continued eastward under the Hudson River, providing through service options for these tracks.

Mapping the phases on the site of future Penn Station development.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013





s the financial and cultural capital of the United States, New York will remain a target of domestic and international threats throughout the 21st century. The city also lies precariously on a rising Atlantic seaboard; as the planet warms, New York cannot move forward without mitigating the risks of cataclysmic climate change. Each of these threats will be considered in the construction of a new Penn Station.


Fortunately, Penn Station has yet to have a major

Security concerns at Penn Station are well

witnessed several minor fires, primarily at the track

documented. In the event of an emergency, an

and platform level, with at least six such incidents

orderly evacuation of the facility would be slowed

reported between 1991 and 2012.

disaster. However, in recent years, Penn Station has

by ingress and egress points that are not sufficient


to accommodate crowds. Additionally, evacuation

These incidents suggest Penn Station is vulnerable to

of passengers from trains on the track platform level

more fires in the future. The timing of an emergency

would be constrained by narrow platforms and

should also be considered; the ability to evacuate

inadequate vertical circulation points. Insufficient

Penn Station in the event of such an incident,

emergency evacuation points would also hamper

particularly at the track and platform level, would be

the ability of first-responders to reach disaster points

severely compromised if the incident were to occur

and assist wounded inside the station.

during peak hours.

Reimagining Penn Station



eimagining a new Penn Station goes beyond simply building a new train station. To achieve all of its potential, it will be necessary to transform the outmoded station into a transit hub for the entire megapolitan and Northeast transportation network. The process will also build on the momentum created by a new station to transform the surrounding district of New York City, making the new Penn Station and the surrounding area a gateway to the city and the region.


It is crucial that a cohesive vision and prudent policies

real estate value to the west side of Manhattan and

are aligned before this transition can be made. The

will match with other high profile (re)development

City, the State of New York, public stakeholders, and

projects planned or in the works. A coordinated

private enterprises need to work together to identify

development strategy will focus on reinvesting in

city building opportunities that promote mixed-use,

the new Empire Center to lay the foundation for

walkable, and transit prioritized development to

future private investment and development in the

create a new “Empire Center” around Penn Station.

surrounding neighborhoods.

Currently, the area immediately adjacent to Penn

The reimagining of Midtown West Manhattan

Station has considerably lower property values

as an innovation district, comprised of four

compared to those properties within the same

neighborhoods that are linked together through

proximity to Grand Central Terminal, another

the Penn Station-Empire Center, will build on the

important, but less intensely used, transit hub in

area’s existing strengths to catalyze

New York City. As occurred in the area around Grand

development for more livable neighborhoods and a

Central Terminal after its renovation, it is expected

globally competitive innovation-based economy for

that redeveloping Penn Station will add considerable

the entire city and megapolitan region.

Reimagining Penn Station


The Empire Center

well situated for start-ups, tech businesses, and

The district around a new and expanded Penn

day move in closer to Penn Station upon company

Station can be reimagined as the Empire Center, a new focal point for New York’s future growth and development. A redeveloped Penn Station will catalyze development throughout New York City and the region, but its impact will be most closely felt in the seven blocks immediately surrounding the station, on an area larger than the Rockefeller Center. By enhancing transit access to the station, improving

supportive service-based industries that can one growth.

In addition, the redevelopment of the

area into the Empire Center will have new public open space, as well as residential, retail, and hotel opportunities. The goal of these proposals is not to cite specific businesses or cultural amenities, but to provide a blueprint for future development. Site Planning for Empire Center & Midtown West

the pedestrian experience around the station, and

In addition to rebuilding Penn Station as a new

extending the High Line into the area, this proposal

gateway to the city and region, it is important to

will transform the existing Penn Station District from

envision and develop plans to improve the public

an under-utilized space comprised of aging office

realm within Midtown West Manhattan.

towers, low grade retail, and parking garages into a

importance of active places are just as necessary

highly desirable magnet for development.

outside in the surrounding neighborhood as in the


station itself. These blocks will be redeveloped as a new Class A business hub joined to Class B and C space,

The layout of the proposed towers is a contemporary

Source: Google Earth

The areas immediately surrounding Penn Station will be reimagined into the Empire Center.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


South, fully integrating transit access with new

environment similar in character to the proposal for


Midtown East, the financial district, and Battery Park City. Rents are forecasted to double, commanding

Moreover, this complex of towers over Penn South

higher prices on par with Times Square and Grand

and the western annex of the Farley Building could

Central Terminal.

also be home to an “innovation hub,� a forum of ideas and a place for cross-disciplinary collaboration

A second element of the site plan is the inclusion

for the burgeoning technology industry. Further, this

of approximately 180,000 square feet of public

hub would serve as the epicenter of a Midtown West

open-space as plazas or prioritized pedestrian areas

Innovation District. Finally, the layout and program

that will open up the district not only for aesthetic

of the Empire Center will exponentially increase retail

purposes, but also will increase pedestrian capacity

(508,000 SF), office (10,400,000 SF), hotel (170,000

and comfort.

SF), and residential (550,000 SF) square footage to

north and east end of the Penn Station will also

capitalize on the critical mass of activity that the new

accommodate increased foot traffic to enhance the

Penn Station will generate.

pedestrian environment and the retail experience.

There are four proposed building typologies that will

A third key component of this plan is to extend the

allow for new commercial and residential-oriented

High Line eastward, avoiding the residential block

mixed uses. All building typologies have ground

on 30th Street and terminating at the Southwest

floor retail; however there are various combinations

Penn Station Plaza. Extending the High Line in this

of uses to create a vibrant district that is flexible to

manner provides a direct pedestrian connection

satisfy market demands. The Empire Center will be

between the new Penn Station and Midtown West.

a premier mixed-use destination with Class A offices

An added benefit to having the High Line turn north

and retail, as well as premium hotels creating an

on 9th Avenue will be the corner vistas, which will

Midtown West Master Plan: The Midtown West Master Plan aligns the new development of the Empire Center with the transportation connections of New York City.

The extended sidewalks on the

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Existing Perspective | 30th Street and 9th Avenue

The High Line is a symbol of urban regeneration and has served as a catalyst for reviving Manhattan’s West Side.

Proposed Perspective | 30th Street and 9th Avenue

The High Line is a critical piece of public realm

some parking will be retained below the viaducts,

infrastructure that brings an element of nature

much of the space will house boutique and chain

and green landscapes into an area lacking in

retail shops as well as portions of the Empire Center’s

tree cover. The wide boulevards along 30th

Innovation Center. Larger sidewalks will create a

Street and the underutilized parcels of real estate

friendly, plaza-like feel on the ground floor, and

immediately north of the street make this area

complete a pedestrianized connection between

a prime location for the High Line extension.

the Empire Center and the High Line.

Currently, the intersection at 30th Street and 9th

Existing issues on 30th Street include wide cartways

Avenue serves as parking for large coach buses.

and narrow sidewalks, and a parking lot at the

The extension of the High Line will call for new

intersection of 9th Avenue; these impose a gap

construction of the elevated viaducts.

in potentially pleasurable pedestrian experience.


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Existing Perspective | 31st Street and 8th Avenue

Seamlessly integrating the High Line into a pedestrian plaza at 31st Street and 8th Avenue creates a new node of activity in the Empire Center.

Proposed Perspective | 31st Street and 8th Avenue

Extending the High Line into the Empire Center

The High Line extension will cover about half

will help close this gap, furthering economic

of the sidewalk and a parking lane, limiting the

development and encourage more foot traffic to the

impact on existing traffic.

proposed developments. The High Line extension

spaces on both sides of the street and the High

will terminate at a public plaza at the southwest

Line will transform this area into an attractive

corner of 31st Street and 8th Avenue, directly across





The enlarged open



from the Farley Post Office. This site will also be the location of a new tower development, replacing

By removing two cartways, extending the sidewalks,

its current use as a parking lot and underutilized

and including a protected bike lane, a new

retail suite. Dramatic stairs will descend into the

active transportation corridor is created that will

plaza diagonally from the new Penn Station.

complement new businesses in the Empire Center.

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Existing Perspective | 8th Avenue

Prioritizing the pedestrian along 8th Avenue by extending the sidewalks and texturizing the pavement will help bridge the connection between Penn Station and the Farley Post Office building.

Proposed Perspective | 8th Avenue

Today, a busy six-lane thoroughfare - 8th Avenue -

the width of the sidewalks three feet on both sides

sits between Madison Square Garden and the Farley

of the street, increasing the setback at Penn Station,

Post Office building. However, the renovation of

and replacing the concrete moat in front of the

both Farley and Penn Stationand the redevelopment

Farley Post Office with an open plaza that welcomes

will require improved pedestrian connections across

people into the building. Additionally, cobblestones

8th Avenue between these two halves of the station.

will texturize the pavement on the cartways to act as a minimally invasive traffic calming device,

To achieve this goal, a new open public plaza, still open

signaling to drivers to be cautious of pedestrians.

to automobile traffic, will be created by extending

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


Existing Perspective | 33rd Street and 7th Avenue

Widened sidewalks and curb bump outs adjacent to a new retail center will improve the pedestrian experience at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue.

Proposed Perspective | 33rd Street and 7th Avenue

34th Street and Penn Station receive some of the

will help to mitigate the

highest levels of foot traffic in New York City. The




risk of accidents on



34th Street corridor and the intersection at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue have such high pedestrian

Additionally, a new tower, plaza, and retail

loads that people often must step into the street

opportunities at the intersection of 33rd Street


and 7th Avenue will further increase pedestrian












Extending the sidewalk width while reducing the width of the loading and travel lanes

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Existing Perspective | 34th Street

An efficient and safe Select Bus Service System will reduce the on street congestion near Penn Station.

Proposed Perspective | 34th Street

34th Street will continue to act as a major corridor

Furthermore, traffic calming bump-outs can be used

connecting Penn Station to public transportation.

as SBS loading stations, which will further reduce the

The new Select Bus Service (SBS) on 34th Street

risk of accidents.

has already been implemented, alleviating traffic congestion in the area. Transforming one traffic lane

The 34th SBS line will be complimented by an Empire

into a shared bus and SBS lane will help efficiently

Center SBS loop that connects all neighborhoods of

move more people across the city.

Midtown West.

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The Midtown West Innovation District What is the Midtown West Innovation District?

The Empire Center: Innovation District’s Nexus

The transformed Penn Station and surrounding


Empire Center development will become the hub

Penn Station, the Empire Center’s extensive

of a proposed Midtown West Manhattan Innovation

redevelopment, including the sixteen new towers,

District. The Innovation District will integrate the

ten pedestrian plazas, and six new greenways will

tech industry in Midtown South and Chelsea, the

act as the bridge between the four surrounding

creative and lodging firms in the Garment Center,

neighborhoods. The Center will create the essential

and the media and entertainment companies in

network link between the region and the Innovation

Times Square. The ability for various industries to

District via seamless interchanges between Penn

reach across disciplines will allow a confluence of

Station and Midtown West.






new ideas and talents spurring innovations in all Located on the western half of the Farley Post

participating sectors.

Office building, the physical representation of the The Innovation District will be enhanced through

Innovation District is the Innovation Center, a 1.1

policies that nurture startup firms and guide capital

million square foot area that will serve as Midtown

investments, acting as an accelerator and incubator

West’s entrepreneurial hub. It will contain applied

for entrepreneurial businesses in all of those sectors.

research facilities, and it will create opportunities to exchange and showcase ideas, provide educational

A Midtown West Innovation District will build upon

courses and trainings, hold workshops and demo

existing neighborhood strengths and balance the

events, as well as offer co-working spaces for startups.

energy and activity across the district in order to

It aims to foster an entrepreneurial community and

advance progressive, idea-intense businesses to

forge new partnerships through collaboration,

compete in and contribute to a globalized economy.

networking, and support. The center will benefit

The Innovation District is the result of enhanced


transportation and public realm investments - a

improvements enhancing travel from across the

nascent area nurturing growing businesses to focus

region, and indeed from across the whole Northeast

on inventive solutions that will have both region-





wide and global benefits. What are the boundaries of the Innovation district?

The Innovation District Neighborhoods Each neighborhood adjacent to the Empire Center

The Innovation District is composed of the four

presents distinct locational opportunities, resources,

neighborhoods that surround Penn Station and


the Empire Center.


The area is defined by an





approximate 15-minute walk in all directions from Penn Station. The northern boundary consists of 41st

The Flatiron District already has more than 300

and 42nd Streets and includes the Port Authority Bus

start-ups and a host of venture capital firms making

Terminal and Bryant Park. The eastern boundary runs

it the epicenter of New York’s high-tech corridor.

along 5th Avenue and includes Madison Square

According to the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership

Park. The southern boundary is defined by 23rd

Business Improvement District, 11 of the 30 most

Street and the western boundary is the Hudson river.

valuable startups in the NYC are located in or near

The Innovation District is roughly represented by Zip

the Flatiron District at a total estimated value of $3

codes 10001 and 10018 and is informally known as

billion. This BID highlights and promotes the prime

Midtown West in the real estate marketplace.

real estate that is favorable to the needs of small startup firms. The relatively small building footprints, open floor plans, high ceilings, and affordable rents of the office buildings centered on Fifth Avenue


Reimagining Penn Station

and Broadway provide workspaces that are more

Company to provide a free, public Wi-Fi network,

conducive to thriving creative industries. Nearly one-

which helps to bring in startup companies and

quarter of the 200 Class B office buildings are leased

boosts the tech sector in the area.

to technology, marketing, and creative design firms. In addition to shorter and more flexible lease terms,

Additionally, the presence of more established tech

asking rents range from $22 to $57 per square foot,

companies like Google and InterActiveCorp (IAC) has

and are comparatively lower than that of central

contributed to the growth of the tech sector in West


Chelsea. Indeed, IAC, which owns 60 e-commerce brands and other digital businesses, has opened

Nascent businesses will likely intensify the digital

its new headquarters on 11th Avenue that not only

media and e-commerce clusters formed in the

houses its employees, but also provides a venue to

Flatiron District. Availability of business incubators

encourage collaboration and networking. Google

and venture capital firms, proximity to other

acquired 111 8th Avenue in 2010, a 15-story, 3-million

innovation hubs, and access to other resources will

square foot historic building with 14.5-foot ceiling

continue to position Flatiron as the stronghold of

heights, to become its New York City headquarters

New York’s tech hot spot. Companies like Tumblr

and accommodate its east coast expansion. Its full-

and Gilt Groupe are based in the Flatiron District

block sized floor plates, public transport accessibility,

and have expanded amidst the burgeoning tech

proximity to advertising firms, and connectivity to

industry. In addition, eBay’s technology center,

its business users make this building well suited to

which includes workspace for startups, is planned

Google’s needs. This and other companies recognize

for development.

the need to reach out and deepen a growing tech talent pool in New York from West Chelsea.

The strength of the Flatiron District lies in part on the presence of specialized facilities which provide

The Garment District has expended substantial

support for startup formation. One such example

efforts to preserve its legacy as the center of

is General Assembly, an incubator that offers co-

the fashion and garment industry. The Special

working space and educational programs for

Garment Center District has sought to create a vital

design and technology entrepreneurs. It fosters

entrepreneurial research and development hub for

collaboration and exchange of ideas and nurtures

creative production and fashion innovation that

entrepreneurial activity through the provision of

builds upon a network of designers, factories, and

affordable workspace, facilities, and classes. Various

suppliers. By 2011, fashion-related employment

corporate organizations like Skype and investment

had seen steady growth, accounting for 48.9% of all

firms have sponsored the business incubator, but

jobs within this neighborhood. It is expected that

the city’s involvement has been the most critical.

traditional manufacturing employment will continue

New York City Economic Development Corp.

to decline here, but at a slower rate compared to the

granted $200,000 for the programming as part of

rest of Manhattan. The reduction in manufacturing

the city’s initiative to grow its tech industry.

employment is making possible the growth in non-fashion related businesses such as hotels and






attractions that incentivize startups and young

food establishments, as well as creative industries, including film, visual arts and photo studios.

employees to relocate in the neighborhood. Public


open spaces, such as the Hudson River Park, the

The changing dynamics of the Garment District’s

High Line, Chelsea Piers and the Chelsea Market,

economy is clearly reflected in the area’s diversified

have revitalized the area into a prime spot for dining

commercial real estate activity. Drawn to public

and shopping. These amenities are also helping

transit access, cheaper rents, and flexible office

the neighborhood grow into a popular residential

spaces, it is estimated that over 100 digital and

neighborhood. The area is also largely synonymous

tech-based startups have based themselves in this

with creative industries and lifestyles that have lured

area. With approximately 88% of the Fashion Center

emerging firms. Other efforts include the partnership

BID’s built space classified as office (62%) or loft


(38%) building types, the Garment District is likely


Reimagining Penn Station




The commercial superblock, built over the west side

Manhattan. Additionally, a proposed SBS loop that

rail yard will incorporate “cost-effective space, optimal

runs along 34th Street, 12th Avenue, 28th Street

for fostering collaboration,” while open spaces such

and Park Avenue will work in conjunction with the

as the Hudson River Park, extension of the High Line,

City’s 34th Street SBS and will link Penn Station to

and the Hudson Park & Boulevard should be a big

the Hudson Yards, the High Line and the Garment

draw for young workers. It is expected that high-

District. It will effectively connect to all parts of the

density commercial and residential development

city, by linking to the R, N, Q, and W subway lines, the

with considerable open space and amenities will

4, 5, and 6 lines, as well as the line 7 extension. Finally,

likely shift energy and activity westward toward the

it is proposed here that two new subway stations will


be added along 28th Street, at 7th and 8th Avenues.

A Highly Accessible Innovation District

The new transportation improvements, and the already high transportation accessibility allows the

The Midtown West Innovation District is already

innovation district to cover 22 subway stations, 13

and will continue to be one of the most accessible

SBS stops, and numerous bus stops, linking to 18

locations in all of New York City and of the whole

subway lines and 2 SBS lines. Finally, a pedestrian

metropolitan area and Northeast Megaregion. It

concourse along 33rd Street will seamlessly link

will be served by 17 different subway lines and

Penn Station to all of the above ground public

with upgraded intercity and high speed rail services

transit. The innovation district will become the

going through Penn Station.

most accessible center in the region, boasting its

The new #7 Line subway extension provides direct access to the Yards and the District. The proposed 34th Street SBS line that runs the length of 34th Street directly links the east and west sides of

Source: newyorkcityscott from Flickr on Dec 26, 2009


Reimagining Penn Station

great legacy of transportation accessibility and the promising improvements.

With new rail investments, over 12 million people will have a 30-minute travel time to the Innovation District. Over 15 million people will have a 60 minute travel time, and over 25 million people will have a two hour travel time to the Innovation Center.

Key Location Advantages Key Locational Advantages

transformation into the Innovation Center include:

Two key factors will contribute to Midtown West

Manhattan’s transformation into an innovation








Station, and the locational advantages of Midtown •

An increase in total population, particularly younger

Analysis of key locational advantages in Midtown






West demonstrates that the area has reached an important stage where a novel economic strategy



district - the improved accessibility of a new Penn West.


is necessary; one that can sustain viable transit-

Existing and new clusters of emerging industries that diversify economic activities

oriented development and elevate New York’s global competitiveness. Even though Midtown West has


suffered from underinvestment and dilapidation, it will become the epicenter of an innovation economy that enhances the growth of jobs and emerging industries, intensifies and diversifies communities, and transforms the area into a memorable place. This transformation is already underway with the extension of the #7 subway to 11th Avenue and the initiation of construction of the first towers in the Hudson Yards and Manhattan West Projects.











Reimagining Penn Station

Soft sites that present potential for property

New synergies and partnerships between municipal, academic, and private firms to incubate innovation economies

Transportation and Accessibility Along with improved commuter transportation services at Penn Station, the proposed Metropolitan

that West’s

Service and High Speed Rail will greatly enhance the regional connectivity and attractiveness of the

innovation district.

York City. The incomes of residents in the area have also increased at a faster rate. This represents an

Improved street level amenities around Penn

opportunity to cater to the shifting demographic

Station, including a pedestrian concourse along

trends through district development and the

33rd Street, will link Penn Station, the Empire District,

associated programming.

and the Innovation District to nearly all forms of public transit in New York City. Additionally, the SBS

Existing Clusters of Emerging Industries

loop will effectively improve connectivity to other parts of the city by linking the Innovation District

An innovation economy would spawn a new

to the R, N, Q, and W lines, the 4, 5, and 6 line, and

generation of start-up business ventures. From

the #7 subway extension. Finally, two new subway

fashion and design to biotech and IT, knowledge-

stations along 28th Street, at 7th and 8th Avenues,

intensive and idea-generating industries are thriving

will put 18 different subway stations within a ten-

today, springing up in and around the Midtown.

minute walk from the Empire Center. The existing

Currently, energy is mostly concentrated along

transportation infrastructure combined with the proposed transportation plans make Midtown West

Key Innovation District Demographics

the most accessible area and gives residents the most options for mobility.



% Change

Total Population




Age Group 21 to 34 Years






New York City

Changing Demographics The area surrounding the new Penn Station is an area in ascendancy and transition as evidenced by changing demographics. From 2000 to 2010, total population in zip codes 10001 and 10018 has shown a 22% increase. The 21 to 34 year old age group accounts for 30% of the increase and almost 40% of the total population in 2010 falls within this age bracket. Additionally, in 2000, the median household income was $44,819 and grew to $76,323, a 70% change from the previous census.

Despite growth in

population and median income in the area, vacancy rates also rose in the area. The homeowner vacancy rate increased from 2.1% to 3.7%, as well as the rental vacancy rate from 3.6% to 19.4%. The data shows a clear trend that young professionals want to live and work in New York City; now, it is up to the city to adapt to these trends. A growing population, under-utilized land, rising vacancy rates,

Median Household Income


Midtown West Manhattan is undergoing significant demographic changes in its residential population, especially when compared to the rest of Manhattan and all of New York City.

Manhattan Only Total Population




Age Group 21 to 34 Years







Total Population



22.10 %

Age Group 21 to 34 Years



29.25 %

Median Household Income



70.29 %

Median Household Income Innovation District*

* As represented by zip codes 10001 & 10018

Source: American FactFinder

and lower real estate values, indicate opportunities to redevelop the blighted areas around Penn Station into a vibrant center that meets the demands of a new generation. The Innovation District is experiencing faster population and young population (aged 21-34) growth compared to Manhattan and all of New

Broadway, particularly in the Flat Iron District and West Chelsea. Young entrepreneurs have found creative ways to contribute to this market, through sharing workspaces, collaborating, and networking.

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


and generate nearly $4 billion of economic growth.

shift to accommodate the new investments and new

Together, these three projects are expected to

District. w

generate more than $33 billion in overall economic impact over next three decades, with over 48,000 jobs, and roughly 1,000 spin-off companies. Such an endeavor will attract the necessary workforce and talent base in science, engineering, and technology

firms as the area grows into a fully fledged Innovation

This innovation district will be the incubator for

emerging firms in the creative and technological

industries that are at the forefront of the globalized economy.

to the City as well as put technological innovators in the same space as motivated entrepreneurs. These advantages create a significant opportunity for Midtown West Manhattan Neighborhood to become New York City’s Innovation District.

Conclusion A global gateway is a monumental transportation

hub that welcomes travelers, as well as an

ennobling experience for people as they venture from the train station into the city. Redeveloping and investing in the public area around the train station and transforming it into the Empire Center

will incentivize private development and welcome emerging industries into Midtown West Manhattan. Furthermore,





The intersection of 34th St and 8th Ave represents a potential redevelopment opportunity around Penn Station to improve the public realm and catalyze the Midtown West Innovation District.


development in Midtown West Manhattan will

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


Source: RDG Engineering


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

IMPLEMENTATION Plans alone cannot deliver a new Penn Station to the residents and businesses of the New York region. To succeed, our proposal must identify the critical component missing in previous plans for Penn Station: a unitary champion, which we call “an honest broker,” to avidly pursue a “Make It Happen” strategy around Penn Station and lead others throughout the process. We recommend this entity as a conduit for administering and evaluating strategies for funding, financing, and delivering a world class gateway to New York City. With a champion backing Penn Station’s future, our plans can become action steps.

Reimagining Penn Station





or the first time in more than half a century, the New York region is expanding its transit infrastructure through targeted investments. East Side Access, scheduled to be completed in 2019, is the largest transportation project in the country and will give Long Island Railroad customers a one-seat ride to Manhattan’s East Side, saving commuters up to 40 minutes on their daily ride and temporarily alleviating congestion at Penn Station.1

The Second Avenue Subway, a project nearly 100

of a new Penn Station and an ability to transcend

years in the making, will include a two-track line

politics. Consultant John McNulty, who led efforts to

along Second Avenue from 125th Street to Lower

rebuild and expand King’s Cross Station in London,

Manhattan, reducing overcrowding on the Lexington

describes this entity as an “honest broker,” capable of

Avenue line. The #7 Subway is being extended west

managing trade-offs between relevant stakeholders.

to Hudson Yards, at the tip of Manhattan’s Far West

Although a new Penn Station immediately benefits

Side. The construction of a new Penn Station is

the entire Tri-State region, the project champion

essential to continuing this momentum.

will likely be a seasoned veteran of New York State


politics; this respected entity will mobilize support To accomplish that goal, this section will outline

from the highest ranks of government and private

a “Make It Happen” strategy that addresses the


primary hurdle in previous Penn Station plans: the


lack of a unifying champion. This champion could be

This project champion must assemble the key

an individual or group with a dedication to the idea

stakeholders. By bringing all parties to the table early,

PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

the “honest broker” can secure their buy-in, creating

and agree on a baseline price to follow.

a smooth transition from vision to completion. The final task for the project champion is to select The British government, a project champion for the

a project delivery entity. The project champion can

HS1 high speed rail in Southeast England, withheld

present several options for an organization capable

funding for the project until all parties agreed on

of delivering a project of this magnitude; when

a comprehensive vision; similar fortitude will be

considering these options, the project champion

required by the project champion at Penn Station.

should stress the importance of eminent domain authority, financing capacity, and the ability to rise

The project delivery strategy will also require an integrated funding and financing plan. Our approach involves a flexible mix of options, ensuring

above political factions.

Key Stakeholders

that a new Penn Station is not solely contingent on federal funding. These options include passenger

This new delivery entity will need to seek buy-in

facility charges, regional levies and real estate

from key stakeholders, including local and state

revenue from joint development around the station.


Revenue streams from each of these sources can

agencies, interest groups, and real estate developers.

be converted into up-front financing in the form of

These partnerships will be critical to obtaining

federal, municipal, or private loans.

financial, public, and political support because

To determine the revenue required to build a new Penn Station, Amtrak’s Gateway Project will be used as a baseline; its tunnels and tracks are vital to increasing capacity at the station. Additional items to be costed include new additional track and platform capacity, the station itself, and public realm improvements.. The project champion will work with stakeholders to adjust prices where necessary





coalitions are able to draw from a wider constituency to advance the project’s goals. Stakeholders are likely to have differing concerns – such as safety concerns, capacity expansion, or profitability – requiring different outreach tactics for each group. Drawing on the example of the stakeholder-driven Alameda Corridor project in Los Angeles, understanding the preferences of each key stakeholder will allow advocates to tailor their approach.3

The studio has developed a “Make It Happen” strategy to overcome the primary hurdle in previous Penn Station plans: the absence of a unifying champion.

Reimagining Penn Station


Funding Scenarios

New Jersey. Thus, assuming Penn Station were to

Re-imagining Penn Station will be a large and

funding (50% or $9.5 billion), it would require about

complex project requiring significant government

13.68% of funding to be raised through district, city,

support. However, during a time of severe fiscal

or regional taxes.

receive a maximum amount of potential government

austerity, different scenarios must be included to model the potential that Penn Station will not

Given that federal and state governments are

receive as much support as past projects. Each

currently in a period of fiscal austerity, less

of the scenarios assumes a passenger facilities

government aid was also modeled. Assuming

surcharge that generates $5.1 billion and a ground

the government provides 25% funding, or $5.75

lease that generates $1.8 billion, more than enough

billion, special purpose taxes will have to account

to pay for the recommended station and public

for $7.3 billion, or 38.68% of project cost. Assuming

realm improvements around Penn Station as well

government entities only provide 10% or project

as a portion of the Gateway and Moynihan Station

costs, or $2.3 billion, taxes will account for 54% of


project costs, or $10.2 billion.

Comparable recent projects in New York, such as

In addition to taxes, the passenger facilities surcharge

East Side Access, the Access to the Region’s Core

could be raised to account for a higher percentage

Tunnel (prior to cancellation), and Second Avenue

of the total if agencies are unable to raise necessary

Subway each received approximately 30% of their

taxes. A track-access fee could also be charged to

funding from the federal government, in the form

account for transit agencies or political entities that

of Federal Transit Administration New Starts grants.

are unwilling to provide funding for the station. The

Additionally, each project received approximately

track access fee could be indexed to account for a

10% direct support from either New York State or

proper percentage of the total project cost.




Reimagining Penn Station


railroad operations, including tracks, platforms, and

Financing A financing strategy will be necessary for the redevelopment of Penn Station, as significant cash flows will not be expected until the new station is completed and surrounding development begins to produce revenue. Thus, policy makers must decide among a series of regularly used financing tools to implement the Penn Station project. Several leading examples of financing mechanisms are outlined below.

Numerous projects mentioned elsewhere in this report, including the Alameda Corridor and Denver Union Station, have taken advantage of this financing option. RRIF is currently authorized for $35 billion in revolving debt, and though a new Penn Station could only be expected to be financed through a part of that total fund, it nonetheless provides a promising opportunity for low-cost financing.





Innovation Act Loan (TIFIA) The TIFIA program provides junior-level debt to major surface transportation projects at Treasury Bill rates for a 35-year period. TIFIA features flexible repayment terms, including deferred repayment terms, and was expanded by MAP-21; in FFY 2013, the program will provide $1 billion in financing, which will support approximately $10 billion in total loans. 49 percent of a project’s total debt can be supported by TIFIA loans. The Penn Station project can utilize TIFIA funding to support private investment. As junior debt, TIFIA will provide additional support for private capital. Railroad



Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEEs) Should the Penn Station redevelopment qualify for federal aid, financing could come through GARVEEs, where expected grant revenue is securitized, offering up-front revenue to more quickly deliver the project. GARVEEs may form a portion of the final financing package, but the absence of sustained federal investment in large-scale infrastructure increases the risk of this option. Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) A final financing option is public-private partnerships, where a consortium of private interests agrees to



Financing Loan (RRIF) Established in 1998, RRIF offers freight and passenger rail projects the opportunity to borrow at treasury interest rates for projects that expand or improve

design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the facility in exchange for a stream of revenue (likely through user fees, as described above). While this model is common internationally and increasingly used here in the U.S., the uncertainty of user fee revenues may make this concession model less attractive to investors.

The federal TIFIA program has been used to finance numerous station redevelopments, including the Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco (Image Source: Transbay Joint Powers Authority)

Source: Transbay Joint Powers Authority

Reimagining Penn Station



To arrive at an estimated cost for station construction,

Having established the possible revenue sources

the itemized costing framework. Washington Union

to fund a new Penn Station, the next step is to

Station is undergoing substantial renovations on the

determine what the price of that redevelopment

scale of the studio’s proposal for Penn Station. The

will be. This price will include only Phase I and Phase

renovation of Union Station will expand platforms,

II of construction. Phase I includes the completion of

create a new headhouse, build a new structure

the Farley Post Office renovation (Moynihan Station

over the tracks, and work with private developers

Phase 2) and the building of the Gateway Tunnel

on ground-lease developments. Thus, costing for

project. The Moynihan Phase 2 project is calculated

the station was considered an appropriate proxy for

at $700 million based on estimates currently being

the new Penn Station. Additionally inputs from the

prepared by the Moynihan Station Development

Fulton Street Station project in Lower Manhattan

Corporation. The Gateway project is being calculated

were also considered.

the studio looked to comparable projects to facilitate

at $15 billion. This figure accounts for the new tunnel under the Hudson River, mining and excavation of

In order to corroborate the project estimate of $3.8

the Penn South Station site, acquisition of the real

billion using unit costs, the studio conducted an

estate at Block 780, and anticipated cost increases

analysis of Washington Union Station on a cost per

reported recently for the project.

million square feet of constructed space. The total project cost at this station is $1.75 billion per million

Phase II will be the Penn Station rebuild and is

square feet of constructed space, which includes

estimated to cost $3.8 billion. The rebuild costs

construction and appropriate markups. There will be

were divided into two high-level categories for

approximately 1 million square feet of station area

estimate purposes: station costs and public realm

and 1 million square feet of track and platform area

improvements. Station costs include interior space

in the new Penn Station. Thus, the total cost for the

within the station, the trainshed and station elements,

new station using this method is approximately $3.5

track and platform configuration and public right of

billion. Adding additional costs for public realm and

way construction necessary for construction. Public

connection to Herald Square ($215 million) raises

realm improvements encompass streetscaping

the cost roughly $3.7 billion, which is in line with the

around the station, a landscaped greenway and

studio’s per unit cost of $3.8 billion.

a pedestrian passageway to Herald Square. The price for each item in the broader category was

Interior Space within the Train Station

determined on a per unit basis to arrive at a total Station construction costs include public space, the

cost for the category.

train room, public station circulation, ticketing and The subtotal construction costs, which include

passenger information areas, retail space, and back-

station costs and public realm improvements,

of-house space. Public space is the largest spatial

total $1.2 billion. These costs were inflated 40% for

component of the station, with waiting areas, the

construction contingencies, which include potential

concourse and other major facilities. Back-of-house

changes in the project’s scope. Soft costs are an

includes facilities such as storage and locker rooms,

additional 65% markup on the subtotal construction

office space, while utilities are the major water,

costs plus construction contingencies. Soft costs

electric, and gas components.

include professional services such as engineering, design, the









contingency markup and soft cost markup costs were inflated 35% to account for demolition and site preparation costs and other uncertainties such as environmental remediation; note, we are not factoring acquisition costs for MSG or 2 Penn Plaza in this cost.


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

Trainshed and Station Elements To estimate the cost of the trainshed, estimates were developed for the costs of the roof and structural support that would be required for the building. Additionally, elements such as exterior walls and glazing, entrance portals, entry vestibules, and skylights were estimated for the project.


systems. To improve access to existing and future

Phasing is a critical part of the redevelopment

reconnect the new Penn Station to Herald Square

of Penn Station. Making difficult decisions about what to build and when to build it is not just an engineering challenge; it represents a political balancing act between competing interests and a public eager to see immediate results. Phases I

Transportation Center. In addition, provisions for connections to future subway station boxes will also be constructed in anticipation of new Seventh and Eighth Avenue subways.

and II include the primary elements that will make

It is also important to consider that public right-

Penn Station a globally competitive landmark, while

of-way will be disrupted during redevelopment of

leaving room for additional investment both in the

Penn Station. Therefore, reconstruction of surface

public realm and in the station’s capacity itself.

infrastructure during and post-construction will be

Phase I Penn Station will be redeveloped in phases, the first of which will involve site clearance and acquisition around the station. In order to fully redevelop Penn Station, Madison Square Garden and Two Penn Plaza

necessary to maintain pedestrian flow. The primary areas for interim and final public right-of-way construction will be 30th and 31st Streets and 7th and 8th Avenues. Future Phases

must be removed from the site, with the Garden

Following successful execution of Phases I and II,

relocated to a site determined by key stakeholders.

additional improvements will be made to further

This critical move will allow for full redevelopment

enhance the newly redeveloped Penn Station and

of Penn Station.

surrounding district. These will include site assembly

During the initial phase of construction, LIRR, NJT, and Amtrak trains will be shifted to the new LIRR East Side Access Station, allowing construction to continue without interrupting service for Long Island or New Jersey commuters. Additional site acquisition required for Phase Two construction includes portions of blocks 754 and 806 adjacent to block 781, the site of Penn Station. Joint development above sites acquired in Phase I will be a part of future phases through long-term ground lease contracts with real estate development firms specializing in mixed-use, high-rise development. Phase I will also include the construction of the Gateway Project’s tunnels and Penn South Station, as well as the development of Moynihan Station on the Farley Post Office site west of Penn Station. Phase II Complete renovation and redevelopment of the existing Penn Station will be the primary component of Phase II. Everything in the current station will be reconstructed down to the track and platform level, including realignment of columns and structural


facilities, a pedestrian passage will be built to

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by private developers or public agencies. At this time proposed sites for future development include blocks 779 and portions of block 757, 783, and 807, corresponding to the Empire Center described above. Future phases will include additional transportation improvement and additional site acquisition and preparation.




be addressed will be new 7th and 8th Avenue subway stations utilizing the pedestrian passages constructed within Penn Station during the initial construction phases, linkage to 34th Street Bus Rapid Transit, and an extension of the High Line to Penn Station. Each of these improvements will enhance transportation connections in and around the new Penn Station. Future phases will also include additional real estate development through longterm ground leases. Additional development will further improve the Penn Station district and offer new state-of-the-art office, residential, and retail space. In addition to the improvements previously described, long-range planning should begin to bring online additional East River tunnels and Hudson River tunnels. While not essential to relieving

leadership is subject to the governors of New York

purpose. In projects from Manhattan’s West Side to

and New Jersey, future political uncertainties could

the U.S. shore of Niagara Falls, ESDC has shown it

make effective project delivery a difficult task.

can support subsidiaries that range in function from station design to district revitalization to economic

Empire State Development Corporation Subsidiary The Empire State Development Corporation, New York’s state economic development agency, already has nine subsidiaries, including the Moynihan Station Development Corporation. The project champion, historically embedded in New York State

development. The Penn Station subsidiary would effectively combine these various facets to deliver the new station and surrounding district. And as a state-run agency, the subsidiary could issue statebacked bonds (at lower interest rates) to pay for those developments.

politics, will be able to garner support for a new

To gain these advantages, however, the railroad

Penn Station at the state’s highest levels. An ESDC

operators would cede control of the project. This

subsidiary, therefore, is one of the more desirable

could result in the deprioritization of station elements

models because of its status as New York State

vital to Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, and Long Island

entity, which will enable the political push for project

Rail Road, threatening their expected status as

delivery to come from the Governor and other high-

primary supporters. There are political drawbacks

ranking state officials.

as well. The entity could face opposition from New

A primary benefit of extending this model to the Penn Station redevelopment would be a seasoned parent corporation for a specific project-driven

York State legislators: Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the New York State Assembly, threatened to vote against approval of the Moynihan Station Development Corporation in 2006 because he felt it would only

Renovations to Denver’s Union Station are being completed under the aegis of the Denver Union Station Project Authority, a single-purpose entity composed of entities from the city, regional agencies, and the state DOT.

Source: DUPSA

Reimagining Penn Station


benefit New Jersey riders.18 Additionally, an entirely

infrastructure projects on the level of a new Penn

New York State run organization may leave out the

Station since the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933.

interests of New Jersey and create an obstacle to

The studio views this option as feasible, yet the least

successful project delivery.

desirable as achieving approval from Congress can

Port Authority & ESDC Subsidiary Combination Combining multiple agencies or departments for project delivery has several precedents (see Hong Kong Air Programme case study), and a combined PANYNJ and ESDC subsidiary--or as a joint venture between the two organizations, as in the existing Moynihan




would have numerous benefits, making it a desirable option for project delivery. The entity would be able to leverage resources and expertise from both organizations. The PANYNJ has substantial experience in delivering large-scale infrastructure projects, while ESDC subsidiaries are well-versed in site-specific enhancements and economic development. The combination of ESDC and PANYNJ would create an entity that predominantly has New

But even though there is little precedent for chartering an agency to deliver a project like a new Penn Station, there are some advantages to the idea. First, a federally chartered special purpose authority would have the ability to borrow at U.S. Treasury rates. Although other delivery entities could also borrow at U.S. Treasury rates by applying for federal credit programs such as TIFIA or RRIF, federally chartered special purpose authorities can borrow at these low rates for their normal tax-exempt bonds.21 A federally chartered special purpose agency would also have the ability to gain direct Congressional authorizations and appropriations. In the case of poor market conditions, it would help to have the lever of a federal charter.

York influence, but receives input from New Jersey.

However, a federally chartered special purpose

This entity is thus desirable as the project champion

district has several disadvantages. First, it would

will be primarily looking to New York’s leadership to

be difficult to deliver the station without a local or

push forward, but will also need support from the

state champion in charge. Since a new Penn Station

Governor of New Jersey. However, a joint agency

would most directly benefit New Yorkers and the

would still have many of the weaknesses of both its

residents of states along the Northeast Corridor, a

constituent parts, including the diminished budget

local or state champion is crucial to advancing the

of the Port Authority and the absence of input from

project. Second, the federal government carries a

rail providers.

poor public perception in delivering infrastructure

Federally Chartered Special Purpose Agency The U.S. federal government, through the powers of Congress, could charter a special purpose authority to deliver a newly envisioned Penn Station. Structurally, this would be an independent government unit that would exist separately from, and with substantial administrative and fiscal independence from, general purpose local governments in the tri-state region. The federal government has not chartered a special purpose authority for delivering large-scale


be a long, arduous process.

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in transportation infrastructure and funding of earmarked projects at the expense of those with the greatest public benefit. A federally chartered special purpose agency tasked with delivering Penn Station would have to operate in a transparent manner that convinces the public that Penn Station produces national benefits worthy of a federal charter.

London’s Saint Pancras International is a model not only for station design but for ambitious construction and project delivery.

Reimagining Penn Station


Source: J. Appellar, 2013


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CONCLUSION Having put forth analysis of historic and existing conditions, a series of proposed interventions, and a comprehensive implementation plan, the work of this studio is nearly complete. What remains is a final question - “Where do we begin?�

Reimagining Penn Station




eimagining Penn Station involves the capacity to think beyond existing barriers in order to invest in a better future. The vision presented in this report seeks to reform both past and present conceptions of the station, the district, the city, and the region. Yet while our expectations may require many to suspend their existing beliefs in what Penn Station can offer, this plan lays the foundation for others to build upon, to carry this vision through to fruition. The success of this vision is contingent on early efforts

study, it is vital that action is undertaken by civic

that move the plan forward. The recommendations

stakeholders like the RPA and Municipal Arts Society

in this report include long-range intervention and

now to ensure the realization of a new Penn Station

implementation strategies;

in the years to come.

it would be prudent

to consider those steps that can be undertaken now. With this set of “action steps”, the vision of a

Key to this action will be the decision of the New

new Penn Station will gain the necessary traction

York City Planning Commission regarding the fate

to advance the work of reclaiming a world-class

of Madison Square Garden. The commission is

gateway for New York and improving connectivity

currently debating MSG’s proposal for an “infinite

along the Northeast Corridor.

extension” to their special use permit above Penn Station. Should the commission instead opt for a

These steps begin with a coordinated public

ten-year extension, coordinated planning around

outreach campaign around what this report has

the future of the Garden—and Penn Station—could

called the Penn Station Imperative. Given the

begin in earnest.

confluence of events that have culminated in this


PennDesign Planing Studio 2013

Visualizing the Evolution Early 20th Century

Early 21st Century

Mid-21st Century Penn Station waiting halls through the years

Sources: Library of Congress; M. Moran 2012

Finally, stakeholders should pursue the success

However, none of these steps alone—or, indeed, all

of Amtrak’s NEC Future process. The Northeast

of them taken together—will ensure a new Penn

Corridor Commission is currently undertaking a Tier

Station. For that vision to succeed, public and private

1 Environmental Impact Assessment of the corridor,

interests around the region must work together to

analyzing the potential economic, environmental,

prioritize the station and related investments in the

and social impacts of expanded regional and

years to come. A comprehensive and sustained

catalytic high-speed rail service in the megaregion.

campaign will be required to ensure that Penn

Penn Station is the lynchpin of this network, and the

Station once again befits Charles McKim’s vision of

completion of Amtrak’s work will pave the way for

a monumental gateway at the core of the strongest

improved rail service at the station.

economic region in the world.

The new station will once more lay claim to greatness in New York City

Source: Library of Congress

Reimagining Penn Station


Source: J. Appelar


Reimagining Penn Station

A P P E N D I X Our vision for a new Penn Station involves several in depth analyses spanning a wide range of transportation,




economic issues that deserve inclusion in this report. The following materials explore our work in more detail and provide further perspective into the ways in which our team came about designing a new Penn Station for New York City. Included





for preserving the heritage of Penn Station; environmental design studies; district analyses; and financial projections. PennDesign Planning Studio 2013




Source: George Bellows 1907 “Excavation of Penn Station”


Reimagining Penn Station




Cited Works..............................................................................................................................A.6 Resources...................................................................................................................................A.7

Penn Station Historic Timeline...................................................................................A.8 McKim’s Station Typology Analysis.......................................................................A.11 Recommendations for Preservation...................................................................A.14






Environmental Design Analysis..............................................................................A.16 Irradiance Studies..............................................................................................................A.20

Land Use and Zoning.....................................................................................................A.24 Unused F.A.R. .......................................................................................................................A.26 Special Districts...................................................................................................................A.26 Business Improvement Districts ...........................................................................A.28 Figure Ground & Nolli Map........................................................................................A.30





Ground Lease Assessment.........................................................................................A.32 Charges Assessment.......................................................................................................A.33

Final Presentation..............................................................................................................A.34 Foundational Heritage Research...........................................................................A.56

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report references APPENDIX SECTION I

Implementation | Realities 1.



Heanue, Kevin E., Guidebook for Integrating Freight into Transportation Planning and Project Selection



“Alameda Corridor Agency Schedules Construction of Pacific Coast highway Grade Separation,” Alameda

Process, (Washington: Transportation Research Board, 2007), Page 151.

Corridor Transportation Authority, February 13, 2003, Word_-_PCH_contract_release_final_2-13-03_.pdf


Agarwal, Giuliano, Redfearn, “The Alameda Corridor.” White Paper: University of Southern California, June


Moynihan Final Environmental Impact Statement,” Accessed at




Projects/MSDC/MSDC_FEIS.html. timetables




at, and NJ Transit timetables at srv?hdnPageAction=TrainTo; 261 weekdays and 104 weekend days were used to estimate annual number

of scheduled trains; “Moynihan Final Environmental Impact Statement,” Accessed at http://www.empire. 9. and increased using inflation calculator from

10. pdf

11. 12. 13. Federal Transit Administration. “Annual Report on Funding Recommendations, Fiscal Year 2011, New Starts, Small Starts, and Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program. Access to the Region’s Core. Northern New Jersey.” November 2009.


Reimagining Penn Station

14. ;

15. ;; http://www.fta. 16. 17. 18. 19. Airport Core Programme Highways Projects,” Government of Hong Kong, road_and_railway/airport/

20. Linderoff, Dave. “The Man Getting Hong Kong’s Airport Off The Ground.” Bloomberg Businessweek, November 27, 1994.

21. Dave Flessner, “TVA sells bonds at record low rate,” tva-sells-bonds-at-record-low-rate/?businesstnvalley, December 20, 2012.

District Design City of New York, Department of City Planning. “Zoning Districts: Special Districts.” 2013. html/dcp/html/zone/zh_special_purp_dist.shtml City of New York, Small Business Services. “SBS - Neighborhood Development - Business Improvement Districts.” 2013. Bryant Park Corporation. “Bryant Park | Company Overview”. 2013. management.html Urban Land Insitute. “ULI Case Studies: 34th Street Streetscape Program.” 2008. aspx?j=8109&p=5&c=24 Flatiron 23rd Street Partnership. “About Us.” 2013. New











template?applicationName=ZOLA &

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Preservation Recommendations

Incorporate McKim’s concepts into new design

Although reconstructing the original Penn Station is not recommended, the new design should incorporate the concepts employed by Charles McKim. These include the procession of spaces, use of light, thorough knowledge of classical architecture, and the ability to evoke a sense of awe.

Source: Library of Congress

Documentation of Remaining Original Fabric

Much of the original fabric was lost during the demolition of the headhouse in the 1960s. Those few pieces that remain intact are important for telling the story of this great architectural icon. Efforts should be made to identify and locate any remaining original fabric in the station and to both document it and use it in the new design.

Source: MYNC

Historic interpretation- Didactic Signage

It is impossible to recover the lost Penn Station but it is possible to remember it and to celebrate its legacy. Didactic signage should be used to tell the story of the original Penn Station and to show how the site has changed over time. The existing interpretation is not adequate to explain the importance of this building and its fate.

Source: MNYC

Create New Station that Fulfills Mission of Original

Cassatt’s envisioned Penn Station to be both a monumental gateway unto itself and to be the center of a thriving district. The current site meets neither of these needs. Any future design should take on the challenge of following through on the original mission of the building as a connection to both the past and the future.

Source: Library of Congress


Reimagining Penn Station

Source: A. Rose, The Demolition of Penn Station, MCNY

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


sustainable design APPENDIX SECTION III

Station Roof Environmental Analysis “The roof structure of Penn Station must be placed

The following images reflect the detailed study

within the context of New York City’s general

that led to the development of a new roof for

climatic features. The climate of New York State is

Penn Station. It is not enough to simply design

broadly representative of the humid continental

for aesthetics and function. Today we must also

type, which prevails in the northeastern United

design for resiliency and efficiency, and hold

States. Under the Köppen climate classification,

ourselves to higher standards of accountability for

New York City experiences a humid subtropical

the sustainability of civic design. As such, a careful

climate (Cfa) nearing the humid continental climate

review of environmental factors served as a basis

(Dfa). The city is warmer than the rest of New York

for the design of Penn Station’s most visible new

State, due to its proximity to the ocean, and is the

structure: the roof of the main hall.

northernmost major city in North America with the humid subtropical categorization.”

Source: Weather Tool

Figure 1 | The psychometric chart shows the ideal comfort level (marked in yellow) in terms of humidity and barometric pressure. Since New York City is cold for more months of the year than hot, one of the roof’s principal tasks is to protect the interior during the winter. New York City’s hot and humid summer months require that the roof also protect against solar radiation and use shading to equalize and comfort the building during the warmer times of the year.


Reimagining Penn Station

MARCH 21st

JUNE 21st



Figures 2.1-2.4 | On-site shadow range: 10am - 5pm

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9 a.m.

12 p.m.

4 p.m.

MARCH 21st

JUNE 21st



Figures 3.1-3.12 | (above) Shadow display studies continued Figures 4.1-4.16 | (opposite) Movement of the sun over various roof arch types Figures 4.17-4.24 | (following page) Movement of the sun over the new roof design by season


Reimagining Penn Station





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9 AM





Reimagining Penn Station

12 PM

4 PM

METAL PROPERTIES U-Value Emissivity 6 0.1 6 0.1 5 0 7.1 0.89 5.55 0.9 2.2 0.9 1.88 4.4 0.88 0.9 3 0.9 3 0.9 3.418 0.9

Element Interior Glass Exterior Glass (vertical) Exterior Glass Roof Panels Exterior Metal Roof Panels Mullion Underground Retail Street Level Retail Platforms Floor Slabs - Level C Floor Slabs - Level A & B Site Blocks

Initial Materials Single Glaze Aluminum Frame Single Glaze Aluminum Frame Transluscent Skylight Corrugated Metal Roof Stainless Steel Framed Plasterboard Brick Concrete Block Plaster Concrete Slab on Ground Concrete Floor Suspended Concrete Floor Suspended External Paving

Element Interior Glass Exterior Glass (vertical) Exterior Glass Roof Panels Exterior Metal Roof Panels Mullion Underground Retail Street Level Retail Platforms Floor Slabs - Level C Floor Slabs - Level A & B Site Blocks

New Materials U-Value Emissivity Single Glaze Aluminum Frame 3 0.9 Double Glaze Low Emissivity Aluminum Frame 0.88 0.9 Double Glaze Low Emissivity Aluminum Frame 0.88 0.9 Insulated Metal Deck 0.55 0.89 Stainless Steel 5.55 0.9 Reverse Brick Veneer R15 0.49 0.9 Reverse Brick Veneer R20 0.39 0.9 Concrete Slab_Tiles on Ground 0.88 0 Concrete Floor_Timber Suspended 2.16 0.9 Concrete Slab_Tiles on Ground 0.88 0 External Paving 3.418 0.9

Figures 5 | (above) Table of metal properties used to assess the new roof material Figures 6.1-6.18 | (below) Renderings of light transfusion through a grid roof versus a transparent roof

9 AM

12 PM


4 PM




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Reimagining Penn Station







Level C - Street Level MARCH 21



Figures 7.1-7.24 | Lighting through each level of the station

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


Unused F.A.R. The Floor to Area Ratio (FAR) of a site is the balance between the area of a building site and the amount of buildable square footage that is allowed on the site. For instance, an FAR of 1 would allow a onestory building that covers the entire site, or a twostory building that only covers half of the site. FAR can also be used to determine sites for potential redevelopment by identifying, which buildings and sites have less built square footage than what the zoning code allows. Clusters of under-utilized FAR sites can be locations for larger scale redevelopment projects. A quantitative analysis comparing current FAR, maximum FAR, and existing building and lot size identifies opportunities for large redevelopments within the Impact Area. This analysis uses a 50% threshold of unused FAR on the site as a benchmark for a priority development opportunity. In addition to using the FAR metrics, unused sites of 30,000 square feet or more are classified as soft sites. Larger soft sites, and thus more desirable for planned unit redevelopment, are defined as parcels with an under-utilized FAR of more than or equal to 50 percent and greater than 50,000 square feet. Special Districts

on the east side of Midtown. The district also includes, transfer of development rights,




signage regulations, density limits, and a floor area bonus for allocations of public plazas, subway improvements, in the following subdistricts—Fifth Avenue, Grand Central, Penn Center, Preservation and Theater. There are also urban design features such as “continuity of street wall and retail uses, offstreet relocation of subway stairs and provision of on-site pedestrian circulation spaces, are mandated within the district.” Special Garment Center District Home to New York’s center for fashion, textiles and apparel manufacturing, this district boasts an array of historic buildings with wholesale and showroom uses. However, New York’s garment manufacturing sector has experienced a steady decline, as it competes with globalized fashion centers and textile industries. In effort to preserve this manufacturing sector, the City enacted the Special Garment Center District zoning ordinances. These specific zoning rules restrict certain uses in large areas of the district to maintain affordable

New York City’s Planning Commission has designated

manufacturing rents. These areas are identified as

special zoning districts since 1969 to “achieve specific

Preservation Areas on selected mid blocks between

planning and urban design objectives in defined

West 35th and West 40th Streets west of Broadway.

areas with unique characteristics. Special districts

“East of Eighth Avenue, residences and hotels are

respond to specific conditions; each special district

not permitted and the conversion of industrial space

designated by the Commission stipulates zoning

to office use is permitted only by certification by the

requirements and/or zoning incentives tailored to

chairperson of the City Planning Commission that

distinctive qualities that may not lend themselves

an equal amount of comparable floor area has been

to generalized zoning and standard development.”

preserved for specified industrial uses. Additionally,

Special Districts allow the city to promote specific

between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, conversion of

planning goals without having to change the

larger buildings to residential, office or hotel use is

entirety of the zoning code. Special Districts around

permitted only by authorization of the City Planning

Penn Station include:


Inclusionary Housing designated

areas are also identified in this district. Special Midtown District Special Clinton District The Special Midtown District is one of the largest special districts in New York City. It provides a

The Special Clinton District (CL), located just north of

development framework for Midtown Manhattan

the Impact Area. This district was created to preserve

that prioritizes: growth, stabilization and preservation.

and create a more integrated residential community

Most of the efforts of the district has been to shift

in Midtown. It is a very diverse district with a mix of

future development further to the west and south in

socio-economic classes.

response to an over-concentration of development


Reimagining Penn Station

This District also mitigates the impacts of new developments through regulations that require appropriate transitions between the lower-scale side streets, and the adjacent Special Hudson Yards District to the south and the Special Midtown District to the east. Additionally, an inclusionary zoning policy, specific to the district, encourages affordable housing and creates a balance of incomes within the neighborhood. Special Hudson Yards District The Special Hudson Yards District, which is located to the immediate west of Penn Station promotes mixed-use development and open space along Manhattan’s Far West Side. This new district will see the development of new office, retail and hotel projects as well as new residential opportunities while maintaining existing ones. The special district includes, “two new corridors for high-density commercial and residential development supported by a subway line extension, new parks and an urban boulevard.” This new urban boulevard and public space will be known as Hudson Boulevard. The majority of the redevelopment and mid density developments will form a buffer between the developments along the Hudson Boulevard and transition into the existing neighborhoods such as the Special Garments Center District located directly east of this special district. Special West Chelsea District The West Chelsea District directs development around the High Line Pedestrian Park. The district guidelines provide for public open space, mixed-use development, and floor area transfer mechanisms or transfer for developments rights to preserve light, air and views. Within the West Chelsea District, most of the higher density zoned areas are located north of the district, closer to Hudson Yards and less dense areas in the East and South around the Chelsea Historic District. There are also inclusionary housing designations in the area to encourage affordable housing and maintain the typological diversity.

Business Improvement Districts In addition to the special purpose districts, there are four Business Improvement Districts (BID) in the Impact Area. BIDs are different from Special Purpose Districts in that a BID is a partnership among private firms that consent to paying a separate fee or tax in order to contribute to the maintenance, development and promotion of the commercial district. BIDs are beneficial for commercial districts by allowing the local stakeholders take a proactive role in the economic development and public realm revitalization of the neighborhood. New York City has 67 BIDs that annually invest over $100 million worth of programs and services in neighborhoods across the five boroughs. Bryant Park Corporation Bryant Park Corporation is comprised of property owners neighboring the park. This district was formed to restore historic Bryant Park, which had suffered a severe decline in conditions in the 1970s. A 15-year agreement was signed in 1988, entrusting management and improvements to the BPC. The park reopened in 1991 after four years of renovation with a budget six times the level under prior city management. It is the largest effort in the nation to apply private management backed by private funding to a public park. Bryant Park is seen as a model of success in the public realm. It also shares its management team with the 34th Street Partnership, a neighboring BID. 34th Street Partnership Created in 1992, the 34th Street Partnership is not only largest BID in Penn Station’s impact area but also one of the largest BIDs in the country. The area around 34th Street in Midtown Manhattan, once a prime shopping destination, declined in the midtwentieth century. The 34th Street Partnership, covering the blocks north and south of 34th Street between Park and 10th Avenues, through which they sought to capture the district’s consumer-laden traffic. Altogether, this zone includes 36 million square feet of commercial space.


Reimagining Penn Station

implementation APPENDIX SECTION V

Ground Lease Assessment The projected stream of ground lease cash flows

respectively. Assuming the ground lease rental rate

is calculated as a percentage of land value with

is ten percent of land value in the present year (year

periodic rent escalations plus a portion of projected

0) with three percent rent escalations each ten years,

rental revenue produced by improvements to the

an annual cash flow of $111.6 million is generated for

land. Parcel values are based on 2012 New York City

years one through nine, increasing every ten years

Property Tax Assessment Roll Data. Because there is

thereafter. It is assumed that the landowner would

inadequate data on the current Penn Station site,

receive five percent of anticipated rental revenues

block 781, and on the Moynihan Station site, block

starting in year ten.

755, the value of block 780 was doubled and used as a proxy based on the fact that blocks 781 and

Rental revenues were projected based on average

755 are ‘super blocks’ approximate twice the size of

rents per square foot applied to the proposed

block 781.

building programs on joint development sites. Estimated cash flows generated from rental revenue

Based on this methodology, the current Penn

are $43.5 million for years ten through nineteen,

Station block 781 and Moynihan Station site block

increasing each ten years thereafter. These projected

755 are valued at $329.3 million, block 780 at $164.6

cash flows represent a thirty-year net present value

million, and a portion of blocks 754 and 806 adjacent

of $1.6 billion.

to Penn Station valued at $139.7 and $153.3 million


Reimagining Penn Station

Passenger Facilities Charges

Rail Access Charges

Using the 2006-2015 projected incremental increase

Average fare increases per passenger are estimated

in Penn Station ridership in the Moynihan Station

using the 2013 number of scheduled trains and the

Development Corporation’s Tier I EIS, it is possible

estimated number of Amtrak, LIRR, and NJ Transit

to forecast the number of intercity and commuter

passengers in 2013 from the 2006-2015 projected

rail passengers for the next 30 years (the length of

yearly increases in the 2006 Moynihan Station

revenue streams that most sources of financing

Development Corporation’s Tier I EI. In 2013, a $500

require) at Penn Station. Using these forecasts, the

RAC amounts to an average increase in fare of $2.38

recommended PFCs yield $243 million in revenues

per Amtrak passenger, $2.19 per LIRR passenger,

in year one, and a Net Present Value of $3.7 billion

and $1.37 per NJ Transit passenger, yielding a total

over the next 30 years (assuming an 8% discount

revenue of $248,980,500 in year one and a Net


Present Value of $3.3 billion over the next 30 years


(assuming an 8% discount rate). PFC Revenues (2013 Dollars Discounted at 8%)


Rail Access Charge Revenues (2013 Dollars Discounted at 8%)






























































































Sources: (PFC) Moynihan Station Final Environmental Impact Statement 2006; National Transit Database 2011 Annual Reporting; (RAC) Aldrich et al (2011), “Commuter Rail Transit Price Elasticity of Demand”;

PennDesign Planning Studio 2013


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