One of New York City’s most iconic places, Grand Central Station—located at 42nd Street and Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan, is just months away from celebrating its centennial. To honor this milestone and breathe new air into this historic area, the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) has invited three acclaimed architectural firms—Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM); Foster + Partners; and WXY Architecture + Urban Design—to propose design ideas for Grand Central and the surrounding area.
Built between 1903 and 1913 under designs by New York architects Warren and Wetmore, the commuter rail terminal station attracted 150,000 visitors on its grand opening day on February 2, 1913. Currently around 750,000 people (or ten times its capacity) transit the terminal each day and, according to an Epoch Times article, the number of commuters could grow even more as the adjacent urban areas could get an additional 16,000 residences by 2030.
In order to balance out the projected increase in traffic and transform the building into a majestic public space, the three selected architecture firms created innovative designs that were presented during the 2012 MAS Summit earlier this month.
The designed proposed by SOM focuses on larger pedestrian corridors, increased public spaces and a state-of-the-art circular pedestrian “observation deck” suspended above Grand Central offering a stunning 360-degree panorama of the city. The circle-like deck would move upwards from the cornice of the terminal to the city’s skyline. New office and retail facilities are also included in the design; if approved, the project would meet the economic growth in the area.
WXY’s design proposal calls for nature-inspired vast urban investments that would make the terminal more pedestrian-friendly and enhance public green spaces and access points for city dwellers and visitors. According to ArchDaily, Vanderbilt Avenue would become a pedestrian-only street, and new public spaces would be created at the base of the MetLife building.
Also, a new tower with green roofs and terraces would be built on the west side of the existing terminal, while the west side of the Park Avenue viaduct would be transformed into an elevated pedestrian and bicycle path.
The third design was proposed by Foster + Partners and calls for street reconfiguration to ease vehicle and pedestrian accessibility, wider sidewalks, a pedestrian-only Vanderbilt Avenue and new public spaces. A large public space with trees, sculptures and cafes would be created between 43rd Street and Grand Station’s west terminal, while a similar plaza would be created to the north to ease the entrances to the East Side Access lines.
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