On Wednesday morning at a packed auditorium near Times Square, four architecture firms presented proposals for a new Pennsylvania Station on the west side of Midtown Manhattan. The event was hosted by the Municipal Art Society of New York, a nonprofit group advocating that the current Penn Station be demolished to make room for something less dark and cramped. This idea has been one of the great deferred dreams of New York planning, almost since the original Penn Station was taken down in 1963 and rebuilt in the basement of a new Madison Square Garden arena in 1968. The biggest obstacle, literally, is the current Garden; owner MSG (MSG) and chairman James Dolan are not keen to move.
All four of the proposals—from H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM), and Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DSR)—have involved tearing down the "World's Most Famous Arena" and putting a new one somewhere else in the neighborhood. (DSR barely mentioned a new arena and proposed setting it on top of the current Farley Post Office, soon to be Moynihan Station.) Making any of the plans real would require long and arduous wrangling among a wide array of interests, but the New York City Planning Commission left the window open last week, when it voted to renew the Garden's permit to operate on top of Penn Station for only 15 years.
H3 would move the Garden to the far end of 34th Street on an expanded pier overlooking the Hudson River. An elevated walkway would loop the arena.