The initiator was the Municipal Arts Society, which in the fall of 2012 already ordered similar "hypothetical" projects for another New York station - Central. But the story of Penn Station is much more complicated. First of all, it is the most important transport hub in the region: every day from 300 thousand to more than half a million passengers use it, making it the largest in North America. It connects long-distance trains and electric trains of three networks, as well as several metro lines, city and intercity buses, etc.
Its majestic historic Bezar building was demolished in the 1960s and has since been underground, with two skyscrapers and the huge Madison Square Garden arena above it (this demolition kicked off the city's monumental protection movement). Its uncomfortable spaces have been compared to catacombs, and the number of passengers has tripled since its opening, which is why it is now working to the limit.
The city is now considering renewing its contract with Madison Square Garden, which, in its current location, is hampering any renovation. The owners of the arena, which can accommodate about 20 thousand people and a theater hall for 5600 spectators, want to stay above the station forever, the authorities are thinking about a 15-year contract, but some officials and activists demand to limit themselves to 10 years, during which the arena must acquire a new "home" (already the fifth in its history).
Pending a decision, four bureaus have developed projects of varying degrees of realism to bring Penn Station back to the city by transforming the station into an attractive public space and making the most of its potential as a hub, serving high-speed trains in addition to current lines.
The SOM bureau proposed, by removing the arena, to increase the space above the station from 2 blocks to 4 blocks. Four towers with housing, office space (more than in Rockefeller Center) and cultural institutions (more than in Lincoln Center) will appear in the corners of the site, and a green "funnel" will be built between them, going down to the glass hemisphere of ticket ticket office - to the center of the new station.
ShoP architects want to relocate the arena to neighboring Hudson Yards, which is now being converted into a mixed development area, and build a lightweight concrete floor above the platforms that will transform Penn Station from a dark dungeon into a sun-drenched hall. It is planned to set up a park nearby and connect it with the nearby High Line Park.
Workshop Diller Scofidio + Renfro proposed to move the arena behind the nearby post office, and regroup the station space depending on the speed of "use". Ticket offices and platforms will be placed at ground level, and everything else, including restaurants, spas and theaters, will be higher, completing the construction with a green roof garden.
Hugh Hardy's H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture decided to relocate Madison Square Garden to a completely different site, and expand the area above the train station towards Hudson Yards, occupying it with a park of 1.2 hectares and a network of bike paths, as well as building a total area 2.2 million m2, which will finance the reconstruction. The station's roof will also turn green: a 0.8 hectare garden will appear there.