Can BIG fix that scraper above Penn Station?

Bjarke Ingels has a frilly plan for the unloved 1960s building above New York station
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Penn Station as envisaged by Bjarke Ingels and BIG
Penn Station as envisaged by Bjarke Ingels and BIG

Danish starchitects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is the latest firm to reimagine the notoriously unsightly skyscraper on top of New York City’s Penn Station. BIG are proposing to completely reclad Two Penn Plaza in glass and add a ‘skirt’ that would double as a canopy for pedestrians on Seventh Avenue.

The unpopular 1960s building was designed by Charles Luckman Associates. Two Penn Plaza is currently home to multinational company McGraw Hill and media-entertainment anchor Madison Square Garden. It has direct access to Pennsylvania Station and MSG.

 

Penn Station as envisaged by Bjarke Ingels and BIG
Penn Station as envisaged by Bjarke Ingels and BIG

Developer Vornado has committed to redeveloping all of Two Penn Plaza’s 1.6m sq ft spread over 31 floors, and BIG’s scheme takes in the interior as well as the exterior. Their plan is to reconfigure the retail space on the lower levels, making the floor plates bigger and improving visibility.

Pennsylvania Station is one of the busiest train hubs in the US but has been referred to by The New York Times as "the ugly stepchild of the city’s two great rail terminals." Previous visions to lessen its ghastliness have been the put forward by two other architectural behemoths, SOM and HOK. 

 

Penn Station as envisaged by Bjarke Ingels and BIG
Penn Station as envisaged by Bjarke Ingels and BIG

Charles Luckman’s building replaced the original and much-loved 1910 Penn Station which was designed by the Beaux Arts architects McKim, Mead & White. Despite being hailed as one of New York's grandest structures, it was demolished in 1963 to make space for Luckman’s building. Hopefully BIG will be the firm to come to the site's rescue. We wish them luck. And for some really great reading on some other great architects check our monographs on Steven Holl and Annabelle Selldorf. And for structures a little more humble but no less exciting check out Jutaku, our compendium of Japanese houses and Nanotecture our book on tiny built things. 


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