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View Full Version : NEW YORK | Moynihan Station (MSG) Towers | 1,200 FT+ | NEVER BUILT

Jan 9, 2009, 1:11 PM

The Moynihan Station Towers That Weren’t


by Eliot Brown on January 8, 2009

One could probably make a book—or at least a pretty big pamphlet—out of renderings associated with the chronically immobile project to expand and renovate Penn Station, now known as Moynihan Station. The project has morphed repeatedly since its birth in the early 1990s but failed to do little other than pay out consultant fees and inspire newspaper articles.

So here’s a glimpse at a rendering we hadn’t seen before today (it popped up in a Wired New York forum), of a set of 1,200-foot-plus towers that would have gone in place of Madison Square Garden, had the whole project ever come to fruition.

The rendering, which an Empire State Development Corporation spokesman dates as circa-early 2007, illustrates the plan to give Penn Station a redo and move the Garden across the street to the Farley Post Office. The Penn redo would have given the developers, Related and Vornado, a huge zoning bonus, allowing them to build 5 million square feet of office space above.

That, of course, was before the two mega-developers realized that, in fact, it turns out to be kind of difficult (or near-impossible) to erect two skyscrapers taller than the Empire State Building over a working train station, causing them to shift course.

Then that whole plan collapsed, and now no one really knows what’s going on with the project.

At the time, the architects on the plan were SOM, Norman Foster and KPF.

Jan 9, 2009, 9:13 PM
Looks like a weird WTC

Jan 9, 2009, 10:52 PM
Looks like a weird WTC

It does. Here's the rendering from wirednewyork.com (Derek2k3)


Jan 9, 2009, 11:01 PM
Wow. Those are huge. Looks like they couldn't get away with blowing up 2 Penn, could they...

Jan 9, 2009, 11:49 PM
Wow. Those are huge. Looks like they couldn't get away with blowing up 2 Penn, could they...

They could have, but chose not to. Both 2 Penn and MSG are like cockroaches that will outlast everything else. As of now, it looks like MSG won't be moving into the Farley building. However, it does look like there will be two large towers on either side of 1 Penn Plaza. We'll find out more on the distribution of space when the documents are released.

But I wonder how the public would have reacted to that (pictured) version of the plan, which is somewhat WTC like.

Jan 11, 2009, 6:18 AM
So that's what they would have looked like. Kind of like a glassy version of Gehry's tower that was stretched and twinned. Not bad overall.

Jan 12, 2009, 7:42 AM
I'm glad this wasn't built. I don't think this twisted/beekham(sp?) tower look will look good in 10 years.

Jan 12, 2009, 1:52 PM
I don't think this twisted/beekham(sp?) tower look will look good in 10 years.

I think that one will become a classic, because it's unique for New York.

Jan 12, 2009, 4:13 PM
I don't know, I'm kind of a little disappointed that I will never be able to see how these towers would have turned out in reality. They look like two shimmering icicles that had their tips broken off. Accordingly, I would like/have liked the design to taper a little more. At any rate, quite a unique design, if more than a little novel.

Jan 13, 2009, 1:06 AM
BTW, both towers look to be above 1,400 ft from that rendering. Here's one of the earlier articles over that ever changing proposal:

Developers To Detail $14B Plans Around Penn Station

Special to the Sun
June 14, 2007

A plan for building a set of towering skyscrapers, two grandlyscaled train halls, and a new Madison Square Garden around the existing Pennsylvania Station are rapidly advancing, and the state hopes to begin the public review process for the project, known as Moynihan Station, in the next few weeks.

The developers' revised designs, which are said to include a pair of towers taller than the Empire State Building to be built on the current site of Madison Square Garden, could swiftly transform Midtown South into a thriving epicenter of commercial activity centered around one of the largest transit hubs in the country.

The proposals, which could cost more than $14 billion including the private development, are being shown to elected officials and community groups by a joint development team, Vornado RealtyTrust and the Related Companies.

A spokesman for New York's Empire State Development Corporation said the state has yet to complete negotiations about the complex development rights and possible public subsidies for the renovation of Penn Station. Developers say they hope to start construction in 2008 after the sometimes lengthy process of public approval is completed.

The project takes its name from the late Senator Moynihan, who favored the concept of transforming part of the Corinthiancolumned Farley Post Office building, which sits across Eighth Avenue from Madison Square Garden, into a train station reminiscent of the original Penn Station. It has been under consideration for at least 15 years and faced numerous financial and political obstacles.

While the developers had publicly discussed their vision for the comprehensive plan about a year ago, the concept is now refined, more specific, and closer to reality, people familiar with the plans said, and come after a spider web of discussions among the numerous stakeholders that has gone on for months.

People familiar with the designs say they call for a complex containing 5.5 million square feet built on what is now Madison Square Garden. Primarily office buildings, it includes two towers whose spires will be taller than 1,400 feet. Another tower, to be built along Seventh Avenue near One Penn Plaza, would utilize 2 million square feet of developable air rights transferred from the Farley Post Office site.

Under the plans, the existing Pennsylvania Station would be reconfigured to allow natural light into the train hall, which is now buried under low ceilings.

"The whole place will be flooded with daylight," the president of the developers' Moynihan Station Venture team, Vishaan Chakrabarti, said. He called it "a dramatically nicer space that, again, is larger than the main room at Grand Central."

Given its scale, the project could be extraordinarily lucrative for the developers. Vornado has a significant number of other holdings in the area that would presumably skyrocket in value. The magnitude of the project also makes it risky, the developers say, especially since the most lucrative part of the complex — the private towers in the place on the current Garden site — could not be completed until near the end of the project, which could take up to 10 years.

"If you think about it, the place where we make any money is the towers that get built last — it's an extraordinary risk," Mr. Chakrabarti said.

Historic preservation groups, including the Municipal Art Society and the Landmarks Conservancy, have expressed concerns that the main hall in the Farley building would effectively be turned into an entrance for a new sports arena; they took issue with the possibility of using the post office's original sales windows as ticket booths for events.

The developers say the rebuilt Madison Square Garden acts as a critical component for that space.

"It certainly moves the center of gravity of Midtown to the south and the west, and it effectively expands the Midtown central business district with a significant new anchor," the chief executive officer of the Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde, said.

Jan 13, 2009, 3:07 AM
Herer's a close up.


Jan 13, 2009, 12:14 PM
Herer's a close up.

Excellent, now we can really see the details. I can't think of anything similar to it. Even Gehry's tower is different. They would have been shiny beacons, even in the daytime. It still has that WTC-like quality. I would have liked to have seen New Yorkers reaction to the proposal, but it's too late for that now.

Jan 15, 2009, 12:34 AM
Seeing this makes me sad. :(

Jan 16, 2009, 7:17 AM
Seeing this makes me sad. :(

Well, we'll see what turns up elsewhere around the site. We've already seen the proposal for the Hotel Penn site accross 7th Ave. Now we just have to wait and see the proposals for the two Penn Plaza sites.

Jan 17, 2009, 4:07 AM
Now these towers are original! I love them and they would've looked amazing in NY. Perfect location, great design, world class city. Build them!

Jul 1, 2009, 7:31 PM
Both 2 Penn and MSG are like cockroaches that will outlast everything else.

I hate this sad reality. MSG was a mistake from the moment the thought of replacing Penn Station crossed one person's mind. I'm young, my dream is to one day see that hideous 60's circle and box gone from NYC. Maybe they'll allow the use of dynomite, just this once.

Aug 8, 2009, 6:05 PM
what's going on with moynihan? is it completely dead?

Aug 8, 2009, 10:01 PM
what's going on with moynihan? is it completely dead?

The redevelopment of the station is not dead. It's reverted back to the smaller, original proposal, which is to use the old post office building (Moynihan) as a new terminal addition to Penn Station. Another expansion, just to the north (though technically not a part of Penn Station) is also gathering steam as construction of the new Hudson River tunnel is beginning.

Aug 8, 2009, 10:15 PM
The bigger Moynihan Station plans (the MSG site) are far from dead, but they won't be revived until 1. the economy improves and 2. MSG sells the site.

MSG is currently divesting the arena from the parent corporation. While it hasn't been announced, it's assumed that at some point in the near future the site will then be sold to Vornado/Related.