Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), an international design studio behind some of the most advanced buildings in the world, is responsible for the new expansion of New York’s famous Penn Station.
Pennsylvania Station, more commonly known as New York Penn Station or just Penn Station, was originally designed by McKim, Mead & White in 1910. Although it was regarded as a masterpiece of the Beaux arts style, it was demolished in 1965 and rebuilt, with a few of its original elements retained.
Despite the restraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, on January 1, 2021, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, and designers Skidmore, Owings & Merrill opened the new Penn Station extension, dubbed the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Train Hall. The hall, named after the US senator who originally suggested the expansion back in the ’90s, is one of the most important public projects undertaken in New York City.
The Moynihan Train Hall expands the Penn Station complex with an additional 255 thousand square feet (24,000 m2) within the distinctive James A. Farley Post Office building. Located between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, opposite Penn Station, the project dramatically transforms what had for decades been a dark, overcrowded space, while restoring the majesty of the original station.
“This is an incredibly important moment in the history of New York City,” says SOM partner Colin Koop. “We’ve designed a place that evokes the majesty of the original Penn Station, all while serving as a practical solution to the issues that commuters in, to, and from New York have endured for too long. By connecting to our architectural past through the adaptive reuse of the Farley Post Office building, we are breathing new life into New York and recreating an experience no one has had here in decades.”
Located on the site of what was once a mail sorting room, the new hall has a glass roof formed by four vaults that span the entire space. To support the structure, SOM uncovered the building’s three massive steel trusses, hidden to workers at the Farley Post Office building a century ago, making them a focal point of the project. With their web-like structure, the bolted trusses add an additional sense of lightness to the hall, while adding a touch of modernity to its neoclassical design. Each of the four vaults consists of more than 500 glass and steel panels, which join together to create a moiré effect. Each truss is fitted with new lighting fixtures that provide light for the train hall at night. On the central truss, a new clock – designed by Pennoyer Architects and inspired by the analog clocks once fitted all around the original Penn Station – marks the time for passengers as they pass through.
The interior spaces of the station, including the train hall, share a unified aesthetic. Drawing its inspiration from the existing historic post office, SOM designed the interiors using Tennessee marble, a material that evokes a sense of warmth, calm, and majesty.
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)
Location: New York, USA
Photography by © Lucas-Blair-Simpson, Nicholas Knight (courtesy Empire State Development)
courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM)