|Kent Barwick: "Let's Get it Right The Second Time"|
o Give a strong voice to the public in the planning of the station, as both the Farley Building and Penn Station are publicly owned and the project will require substantial public funding.
o Maintain ownership of Moynihan Station in public hands. Empower the Moynihan Station Development Corporation to oversee financing, design and operations. Create a mechanism for ensuring that both Moynihan East and West are maintained and operated, in perpetuity, to the level required at Grand Central Terminal.
o Take advantage of the development rights that come with the station to build a great Moynihan Station District that knits together Midtown with the Far West Side. Ensure that development on each receiving site is of a scale consistent with the site’s surroundings, and that provisions are made to upgrade the area’s infrastructure.
o Give priority to the transportation functions of the station in its planning and design.
o Maximize the project’s intermodality by promoting connections to multiple transit services, airport access, taxis, walking and biking. Plan for a new transit connection from Herald Square to the Hudson River.
o Enhance the pedestrian environment throughout the Moynihan Station District, at street level and below grade. Emphasize East-West connections, from Greeley Square to the Far West Side and Hudson River. Connect Moynihan Station to the new ARC station at 34th Street. Create a below-grade pedestrian environment that rivals those of Grand Central Terminal and Rockefeller Center.
o Minimize train service disruptions and surface impacts during the multi-phase construction process.
o Create a grand work of civic architecture using our historic legacy, as Senator Moynihan envisioned. Design excellence and sustainability must guide all aspects of the project, from Seventh Avenue to Ninth Avenue.
o Construct an exemplary new Moynihan Station East building with large public spaces, natural light and dramatically improved public circulation and safety features.
o Promote economic vitality with a vibrant mix of retail in the station, giving particular emphasis to independent businesses, as in Grand Central Terminal. Ensure that retail complements and does not overwhelm the character of the train station.
o Make the Train Hall in the Farley Building a space of great architectural distinction, one that serves the needs of rail travelers. Ensure that arena and retail activities do not detract from the sense that the Train Hall is a separate, independent public space with a great sense of place and history.
o Restrict signage in and around Moynihan East and West to primarily directional and accessory signage. A limited amount of advertising is acceptable as long as it is tastefully designed and managed, as it is in Grand Central Terminal. While Madison Square Garden will require appropriate signage, its presence should not dominate or overwhelm the Train Hall.
o Activate the streetscapes on all sides of both buildings to draw pedestrians out to Ninth Avenue and the Far West Side. The Seventh Avenue entrance, today so underwhelming, should be inviting and have great presence.
o Make the Moynihan Station District a global model for climate-friendly development. Ensure that all new buildings in the area are designed to reduce carbon production and incorporate state-of-the-art technology in green design.
o Protect the integrity of the historic Farley Building, one of New York City’s most significant landmark structures. Rehabilitate the structure in a way that qualifies the project for federal historic preservation tax credits.
o Design the proposed vertical addition atop the Farley Building annex for the new Madison Square Garden arena to minimize its height, diminish its visibility from Eighth Avenue, maximize its setback from the perimeter walls, and ensure it is compatible with the landmark from which it will protrude.
o Recognize the historic integrity of the Post Office Lobby and its value as a public space. Maintain a postal presence in the lobby, and make sure that the broad front steps continue to be the customary means of accessing the postal facility. Consult with officials from the USPS, Moynihan Station Development Corporation, the City, the Venture and Madison Square Garden, as well as from members of the community, to study if it is possible to share the space among postal and other uses.
o Voluntarily submit the proposed design to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission for its advisory review, so that the public may have an opportunity to comment on the landmark issues.
Let's Get it Right the Second Time
By Kent Barwick
Pat Moynihan believed that America is the land of second chances. He saw the idea to build a new Penn Station in the landmark Farley Post Office across Eighth Avenue from the current "stygian chamber" (hell hole) of a station as New York's golden opportunity to redeem itself for tearing down the original Pennsylvania Station. He persuaded Congress to allocate the funding so that New York would regain a grand gateway with room to grow.
More than eight years have past since President Clinton, Governor Pataki and the Senator stood on the Post Office's monumental steps to announce that work would start soon. The latest delay is that the developers now see an even bigger idea.
They would build a new Madison Square Garden in the west end of the Post Office, demolish the current Garden and construct a huge commercial office complex with an upgraded Penn Station underneath. Pat Moynihan would have appreciated the irony that it was the current Garden eyesore that replaced the stunning original station, but he would also have been intrigued with the opportunity.
This complex real estate play envisioned by the developers -- Vornado and Related -- is a great New York-scale idea in the tradition of the Vanderbilt's Grand Central City or the Rockefeller's Rockefeller Center. But dangers are apparent.
Who will guarantee us a grand new train station? What will prevent the Garden from papering over McKim Mead & White's Corinthian columns with jumbo advertising signs? Will New York's favorite Post Office become ticket windows for Madonna? Can a train hall be a lobby for the Knicks? These and other questions should not prevent a clear-eyed discussion of the developer's ideas. But who will be in charge?
Generations ago, the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers were risking their own money. At the station, there's a lot of our tax dollars at stake. We have to see this is a contract with the future that cannot be compromised by a commercial real estate deal.
Kent Barwick is president of the Municipal Art Society. A version of this article first appeared in the Daily News.