Grand Central has always been more than a train station. It’s an architectural and cultural touchstone for New York City. Even the most hurried commuter will stop to admire the building’s impressive scale and immaculate detail, before making their next transfer or stepping onto the crowded Midtown streets.
The Municipal Art Society recently commissioned and released four versions of a re-imagined Penn Station. It commissioned Diller Scofidio + Renfro, H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, SHoP Architects, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to prepare drawings of what a new terminal would like for the busiest train station in the country.
It has now come to light that actually a fifth concept was prepared but not presented at MAS’s “press conference.” The design by the firm Michael Sorkin Studio builds on MAS’s legendary 1970s protest against the destruction of Grand Central Station. In that protest Jacqueline Onassis famously joined forces with other powerful Manhattanites to stop a proposed Marcel Breuer high rise slated to be built above and across the southern front of Grand Central.
New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has completed blasting through bedrock far below Grand Central Terminal for the East Side Access Tunnels that will connect the station with Sunnyside, Queens. As part of the announcement, one of the last production blasts from late March has debuted on YouTube. The video above reveals what has been transpiring beneath the streets of Manhattan during the tunneling process, and the sight is rather impressive. A camera caught the final blast that made way for a massive cavern. So far 2,424 production blasts have occurred below the commuter rail terminal station, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. For this explosion, sandhogs drilled more than 200 blast holes and loaded them with over 300 pounds of powder to guarantee a powerful explosion that could rival any action movie’s special effects.
Happy Birthday Grand Central Terminal! Today the 49-acre train station is turning 100 and celebrating this grand ‘ole affair with performances, events, and even a LEGO model of the Beaux-Arts style station itself, courtesy the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester Station Master’s Office. Designed by Reed & Stern and Warren & Wetmore, the station is believed to be the largest station by number (44) of platforms in the world.
In honor of the Centennial, some of the retail shops and restaurants are even dropping their prices to 1913 levels, so commuters can grab a piece of cheesecake at the Oyster Bar for 19 cents. The New York Times also fired up its own time machine, posting the original supplement from 1913 when Grand Central first opened to the public. (You can download the PDF here.)
This year’s a big one for New York’s Grand Central Terminal: On February 2, the Warren & Wetmore-designed train station will celebrate its 100th birthday. We expect to hear quite a bit about Grand Central all year long, as a massive rezoning effort takes shape around the Beaux Arts landmark. For instance, take a look at the Municipal Art Society’s recent recent reimagining of the terminal by Norman Foster, SOM, and WXY.
Now the United States Postal Service is getting on board with a stamp by artist Dan Cosgrove depicting Grand Central’s main concourse. The Express Mail stamp carries a price tag nearly as big as the station itself, but like the trains running beneath Grand Central, it’s sure to offer speedy transit. [Via Gothamist.]
In response to the New York City Department of City Planning’s proposal to rezone Midtown East, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission to give landmark status to 17 buildings in the 78-block area concentrated around Grand Central Terminal. It is a last ditch effort to preserve several prominent structures—with styles ranging Beaux Arts and Renaissance Revival to Neo-Gothic and Mid-Century Modern—before Midtown gets the green light to raze old structures and erect new (and taller) buildings that provide modern features for tenants who “want open space plans” wrote the DCP in its proposal. The New York Times described the re-zoning as part of the Bloomberg administration’s vision to re-vamp midtown and turn it into a more competitive business district.
Some notable buildings that have made MAS’ list include the New York Health & Racquet Club in Gothic Revival Style, the Graybar Building with Art Deco accents, the Neo-Gothic Swedish Seamen’s Church, and the Yale Club noted for its neo-classical façade.
Farming Right Side Up. Spiegel Online reported on vertical farming research in South Korea as an innovative means of remedying food shortages on an increasingly urban planet. For the time being, agricultural scientist Choi Kyu Hong conducts his own version of Dickson Despommier’s Manhattan urban gardening project in an unexceptional 3-story industrial building, but Hong and his team have outfitted the farm with solar panels, LED lighting, and recycled water infrastructure hoping to attract enough attention to bring vertical farming to the global market and city skyscrapers.
Hadid Stands Still. After touring New York, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid claims its permanent home in the front plaza of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, France. A Daily Dose of Architecture noted that the pavilion now features the Zaha Hadid Une Architecture exhibition, creating a thematically coherent viewing experience inside and out.
Stirling Search. Bustler posted the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA) shortlist for this year’s £20,000 ($32.5K) RIBA Stirling Prize. The list includes previous prize winners Zaha Hadid and David Chipperfield, as well as O’Donnell + Tuomey, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Bennetts Associates Architects and Hopkins Architects Partnership for the 2012 London Olympic Park.
Bored to Death. After tunneling through the subterranean rock of Midtown Manhattan for the new Grand Central Terminal train station, the 200-ton serpentine drill will be left to decompose 14 stories underneath Park Avenue. The New York Times revealed that the Spanish contractor in charge of the 4-year excavation ensured the MTA that this internment is both practically and economically preferable to dismantling the drill.
Going to the Chapel. Curbed posted the two winners of a pop-up chapel competition celebrating gay marriage in New York. ICRAVE’s entry calls for a pavilion of colorful ribbons while Z-A Studios design forms recycled cardboard into a curving tulip. Both designs will built in Central Park this weekend where they will host 24 weddings.