Four top architecture firms presented renderings of a redesigned Penn Station and a separate redesigned Madison Square Garden.

The firms, SHoP Architects, H3 Hardy Architecture, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro and SOM, were hand-picked by the Municipal Arts Society to take part in a design challenge.

SHoP principal architect Gregg Pasquarelli noted the need for an expanded Penn Station is getting increasingly imperative as the station was built for 120,000 users a day and is now seeing five times that amount.

 

"We wanted to make something... that was uniquely New York," Pasquarelli said of SHoP's design, "so it was really about opening up the tracks to the sky, letting light come through, connecting to the neighborhood and building density all around the train station."

MAS has joined with the Regional Plan Association to form the Alliance for a New Penn Station.

MAS President Vin Cipolla emphasized that the relocation of Madison Square Garden is necessary for any improvements to Penn Station, as the Garden is supported by more than 1,100 columns that extend down to the tracks.

The Garden's permit for that location just expired, and they are now applying for a special permit that would allow them to remain at the site permanently. Cipolla, and the architects behind these renderings, see this as a critical opportunity: If the Garden gets that permit, they say, a new Penn Station will be impossible.

"This is our one shot," Pasquarelli said. "We've got to make this happen. It's critical for the future of New York."

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat

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