Monday21 August 2017

Foster & Partners, SOM and WXY unveil Grand Central designs

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Proposals revealed as part of New York summit

Foster & Partners, SOM and WXY have unveiled their proposals for Grand Central Station in New York.

The three practices were commissioned by the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) to re-imagine the public spaces in and around terminus and the East Midtown neighbourhood in a centenary celebration project called Grand Central… The Next 100.

Their ideas were presented today as part of the 2012 MAS Summit for New York City, two days of talks, panel discussions and conversations about how to make New York City more liveable.

From a soaring “skyway” that rises above Grand Central, to a transformed Park Avenue Viaduct, to expansive pedestrian plazas and bicycle paths, the designs will help inform the future of the Manhattan neighborhood as the city develops a new planning framework.

MAS president Vin Cipolla said: “There is perhaps no building more important in New York City than Grand Central. It is the anchor of a major commercial business district, a critical piece of infrastructure, and one of our most important urban transportation hubs. It is also one of the world’s great public spaces.” 

The 3 proposals:


SOM’s design for the transformation of this area embraces public space at many levels. Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) are re-imagined as Privately Funded Public Spaces (PFPS), allowing a variety of transformation and new public spaces. Light is brought down to the underground spaces, new corridors are created through buildings to facilitate pedestrian circulation at increased densities, streets (including Vanderbilt Avenue and the viaduct) are re-purposed as public spaces, and most dramatically a new public space – a panoramic ring above Grand Central – rises above Midtown as a new kind of public experience and marker of New York’s commitment to public space.

SOM's Grand Central designs

SOM’s Grand Central designs

Roger Duffy, design partner at SOM, said: “Throughout New York City’s history significant urban growth has been matched by grand civic responses. The 1811 Commissioner’s Plan, the creation of Central Park, zoning regulations in 1916 and 1961, and Grand Central Terminal itself have all resulted from this fundamental relationship. MAS’s call to focus on the public spaces in and around East Midtown is an opportunity to propose a rebalancing of this equation, increasing the quantity and quality of public space as the city contemplates significant densification in the area.”


WXY sought to find ways to bring new energy and activity to this neighborhood by reinvigorating a number of key places – the base of the MetLife building as a new open space and cultural anchor, opening up Vanderbilt Avenue to create seamless access to the tracks below grade, and a transformed Park Avenue viaduct. 

WXY's Grand Central designs

WXY’s Grand Central designs

Claire Weisz, principal at WXY, said: “New zoning rules should trigger real transportation links to public space. One way is to harness the untapped potential of Grand Central’s edges. The plan for Midtown’s near future needs to make the Grand Central neighborhood a place people enjoy being in not just running through.”

Foster & Partners

Foster & Partners, in creating a new public space framework for Midtown, sought to make a number of small interventions to gradually change the circulation and flow through the streets, buildings, and transit. The focus of their vision is ensuring that the buildings themselves are designed in such a way as to respond to a public space strategy – creating additional room to breathe around Grand Central.  With a number of smaller interventions Midtown’s trajectory is shifted – creating an opportunity to linger and admire – rather than simply race through. 

Foster Partners Grand Central designs

Foster & Partners Grand Central designs

Norman Foster said: “The quality of a city’s public realm reflects the level of civic pride and has a direct impact on the quality of everyday life. With the advent of the Long Island Rail Road East Side Access, along with the plan to re-zone the district, there has never been a better opportunity to tackle the issues of public access and mobility around one of the greatest rail terminals in the world.” 


Readers' comments (1)

  • zecks_marquise

    How exactly is a $20 a pop viewing halo, demonstrating a commitment to public space?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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