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.
Consensus among the city’s political players is growing in favor of the relocation of Madison Square Garden from its home atop Penn Station. Yesterday, City Council held a public hearing to discuss the future of the Garden and the overcrowded train terminal. Filmmaker Spike Lee, surrounded by an entourage of former Knicks players, testified on behalf of the Garden. According to the Wall Street Journal, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn expressed her support of a ten-year term limit for the arena in a letter addressed to the Garden’s President and CEO, Hank Ratner, on Wednesday. The owners of the arena have requested a permit in perpetuity, however, several government officials and advocacy groups—including Borough President Scott Stringer, the Municipal Art Society (MAS), and the Regional Plan Association—have called for limiting the permit to 10 years. This comes after the City Planning Commission voted unanimously for a 15-year permit extension.
Madison Square Garden has been on the move since its inception in 1879 as a 10,000-square-foot boxing, bike racing, and ice hockey venue in an old railroad depot at Madison Avenue and 26th Street. The facility later moved into an ornate Moorish-style building designed by famed Stanford White, architect of the Penn Station, which the arena notoriously replaced at its fourth and current home on 33rd Street in Midtown (after a brief stop on 50th Street). Now, if community boards, civic and planning groups, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer get their way, the venue will be sent packing once again.
It has been a rough year for Madison Square Garden. First, upstaged by the arrival of the brand new Barclays Center, and now, the Penn-station-topping arena faces an uphill battle to renew a permit that allows it to function as a sports venue after Manhattan’s Community Board 5 voted down the extension request.
For months rumors have swirled that developer Madison Square Garden Co. (MSG) would buy the midcentury modern LA Forum arena in Inglewood, former home of the LA Lakers and LA Kings. (Its architect, Charles Luckman, also designed Madison Square Garden.) That deal is now official, according to Crain’s New York, who said the company just paid $23 million for the property. MSG will begin a “comprehensive renovation” of the arena later this year, and details of that job will be released this fall. The company is currently working on an $850 million renovation of Madison Square Garden, itself a taxing job that is set to be done by next year.
The three year cycle of summertime renovations at Madison Square Garden is starting to eat away at its bottom line. The renovation schedule has prevented some big name events booking the arena, resulting in 39 percent drop in earning for the second quarter. At a cost of nearly $850 million (up from initial projections of around $500 mil), renovations won’t be done until 2013. Work that began this past April at the end of the Knicks’ season involved refurbishing the lower seating bowl will wrap up in October. Future work will redo the upper seating bowl and add bridges above the arena’s ceiling. [Deadline via Real Deal]