This post appeared in a previous blog and is here for posterity’s sake.
According to the New York Times and the New York Observer, the Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation (more info) unveiled the fourth (yes, fourth) design for the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Station (Penn Station), this time by Skidmore Owings and Merrill. It is deja-vu all over, again. A good resource to follow the history is this Wired New York’s thread.
Delving into the environmental impact study dredges up plans for a 700′ tower and a new home for Madison Square Garden, but let’s focus on the Station first, and then what the EIS says.
For those following at home, the second design was showcased by David Childs with SOM back in 1999, and more recently (due in no doubt by behind-the-scenes machinations) in July 2005 a new developer and architect – HOK New York and Jamie Carpenter Design Associates unveiled a new design.
Which brings us back up to speed to today, where David Childs and SOM are – in no doubt due to the smashing success of 7 World Trade – back in the city’s and (more importantly) developer’s good graces; thus now SOM is re-redesigning Penn Station, this time shedding the project of any sort of technical whopp-de-doos, and sticking with two barrel vaults, which while not exactly sexy from the “God-view” hold promise as monumental space for daily straphangers.
So, I wanted to see what all of the designs looked like together. In chronological order, here are the three designs I could find:
Poking around the Moynihan Station Draft Environmental Impact Statement (27 April 2006), I found some interesting tidbits which I don’t think has been reported yet.
First off, here is the current situation:
There were three developers who were issued the RFP. Developer “C” – “the conditionally designated preferred developer” (Draft EIS, page 8) – is the winner, who we now know is the Related Companies/Vornado Realty Trust developer team. We knew that back in July 2005, when they unveiled a new design – the HOK/Carpenter design. So what happened in the last year-plus? Probably a combination of 7 World Trade, client dissatisfaction, and the usual large-project goings on. HOK is an unknown element in New York City plain and simple; SOM on the other hand, just built a shiny new spec-office building at one of the most highly contested sites in the US, not to mention the recent completion of Time Warner towers at Columbus Circle, a project no less daunting due to the location and tenants. So it makes sense that a firm who developers know can get projects done (while making some of them pretty) was used to (re) redesign the project.
Here’s an interesting section, from the EIS, which showcases the two glass barrel-vaults better than the God-view:
I am sure (hope) that the design of the barrel vaults have proceeded in tandem with this announcement, because the proportion of the “Intermodel Hall” (left most vault) needs some work. As noted by The Observer:
Notice from the adjacent rendering that Childs did not reinstitute the so-called potato-chip skylight that was lost when HOK and Jamie Carpenter took over the project last summer (only to be replaced by Childs shortly afterwards). Why? It would have destroyed the building’s facade and hindered the ability of Related and Vornado to qualify for historic preservation tax credits.
Those credits, Gargano said, were worth “$100 million or even hundreds of millions.”
That, and I’m sure that the developers didn’t want to shell out the bucks for the engineering and construction of the previous design. As more information becomes available, I can critique the design, but frankly SOM has a lot of work to do.
Before we get back to the Environmental Impact Report, let’s look at all three developer’s floor area calculations found on page 10:
Wow, that’s a lot of numbers…
What Set Them Apart: Tower Envy
What set Developer’s A & B (not named, by the way) apart from Related Companies/Vornado Realty Trust was the overbuild development rights. Developer A & B proposed to use the Post Office’s unused development to build an approximately 40-story building (1-1. million gross zoning square feet (gzsf)) above the Farely Post Office. Below is Figure 1-3 showcasing Developer A’s proposal and Developer B’s proposed towers over the Farley Post Office:
As you can see, these aren’t very graceful, and would very well detract from the new Penn Station.
The Winning Combination
Related Companies/Vornado Realty Trust on the other hand, proposed transferring the development rights to a location adjacent to One Penn Plaza, on 8th Avenue between 33rd & 34th Streets. This building would be 700 feet tall, and approximately 1.1 gzsf and contain commercial space and either a residential or a mixed-use hotel/residential portion.
From the EIR (pdf):
Each (scenario) would contain 120,000 square feet of retail and 40,000 square feet of mechanical space. The remaining 940,000 square feet in the residential building would provide approximately 940 units. The mixed-use building would be divided between a 310,000-square-foot hotel and a 630,000-square-foot residential component with approximately 630 units. Under each development option, it is assumed that 20 percent of the residential rental units would be developed as low-income housing under the 80/20 affordable housing program.
Here’s a zoning envelope for this proposed building:
So that’s a pretty big, big building. At a conservative 12′-0″ per floor, that’s around 58 floors (real floors, not developer floors). If SOM can cut the floor-to-floor distance like they were able to at 7 World Trade, then I’m sure they can squeeze an extra 5-8 floors of rentable space (in Midtown, no less).
Here’s an aerial of where the proposed tower is located:
And here’s a crappy floor plan provided by the EIS:
The Arena Option
Additionally, Related Companies/Vornado Realty Trust proposed an Arena Option (page 9) which would use the “Western Annex”, which is the post office addition bordering 9th Avenue, as a new Madison Square Garden. This isn’t new information – MSG has wanted to move for awhile. Go and read more in Chapter 20: Alternatives starting on page 11 and the New York Observer take.
I am agnostic on this whole tower issue, since the surrounding area is more or less built up already, I don’t see why another 700′-0″ building will affect it, but another 1.1 million square feet and another 50+ story building is nothing to laugh at. But I reserve the right to change my mind when (if) the design is unveiled.