Third Grand Central Terminal proposal
includes 380-metre skyscraper


News: WXY Architecture are the third and final studio with plans for the future of New York's Grand Central Terminal and have suggested a 380-metre skyscraper and a network of elevated cycling paths (+ slideshow).

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

Alongside other firms Foster + Parters and SOM, the architects were invited by the Municipal Art Society of New York to look at the public spaces in and around the 100-year-old station then come up with a strategy for the future.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

Like Foster + Partners, WXY Architecture proposes the pedestrianisation of Vanderbilt Avenue, above which an elevated deck would surround the base of the 250-metre-high MetLife Building.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

The architects refer to this deck as a "podium park", which would feature transparent glass paving and seasonal plants, plus routes for cyclists and pedestrians and spaces to pause for reflection.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

"The plan for Midtown’s near future needs to make the Grand Central neighbourhood a place people enjoy being in not just running through," said WXY's Claire Weisz.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

The new skyscraper would be constructed to the west of the station and the architects have imagined a pyramidal structure with vertiginous gardens that protrude from the facade.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

All three architecture teams presented their proposals at the third annual MAS Summit for New York City last week.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

SOM's design features a floating observation deck, while Foster + Partners' plans are to widen approach routes.

Here's a project description from WXY Architecture:

WXY Architecture + Urban Design was one of three distinguished firms invited by New York City's Municipal Arts Society to create a vision for the future of the public areas around Grand Central Terminal and the surrounding East Midtown district. With deep experience in civic projects, the firm has proposed opening up more public space to city dwellers and visitors for enjoyment and reflection. The plan would also create inviting thoroughfares devoted to pedestrians and bicycle riders.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

Proposed pedestrian and bicycle route - click above for larger image

"New zoning rules should trigger real transportation links to public space. One way is to harness the untapped potential of Grand Central’s edges" says Claire Weisz, one of WXY's founding principals. "The plan for Midtown’s near future needs to make the Grand Central neighborhood a place people enjoy being in not just running through."

WXY's proposal would create a striking new ground transportation hub, through the following interventions:

» Transforming Vanderbilt Avenue into a pedestrian-only street,
» Creating new public spaces around the base of the MetLife building,
» Adapting the west side of the current Park Avenue Viaduct into an elevated pedestrian and bicycle path, with a glass floor and seasonal plantings, and
» Introducing a new tower, featuring "sky parks," on the west side of Grand Central Terminal.

Focusing efforts along 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, the plan by WXY Architecture + Urban Design restores pedestrian-friendly amenities to what had been an automobile-centric urban layout. The pedestrian/auto hybrid strategy includes making Vanderbilt Avenue a pedestrian-only walkway. The west side of the Park Avenue viaduct would become an elevated promenade featuring tall grass plantings and glass paving -- a space for reflection hovering over the city bustle.

Grand Central scheme by WXY Architecture and Urban Design

Proposed new entrances - click above for larger image

Combining walkable skylights with wide staircases and a multi-level approach, points of entry to the Grand Central area become unusual and gracious outdoor rooms that provide access and support to an expanded terminal city. Direct access to and links between the multiple subway and train lines -- including the new East Side Access/LIRR lines -- would be greatly expanded and improved.

Egress from the MetLife building's base would become visually striking and yet relaxing to use, with escalators transporting travelers into a cleared podium park. Some years after completion, visitors exiting via these escalators will have the experience of being greeted first by the park's grove of trees, a pleasant surprise in the Midtown East district. Surrounded by an active facade and a sky lobby above, the podium park presents an opportunity for a unique public event space.

WXY's plan also includes a proposed obelisk-shaped tower west of Grand Central Terminal. The tower's graceful, elongated pyramidal lines are broken at odd intervals by garden terraces that protrude like enormous window-box gardens, and feature seasonal plantings. The roof is likewise vegetated, reinforcing New York City's renewed commitment to finding and creating green spaces for the health and enjoyment of its citizens.

  • Chris

    Picture 4 makes no sense. If you’re about to vomit, you’re meant to point your head towards the ground.

    • Hugh Dismuke

      That’s what they call “Chicago style”. SOM soulless and unimaginative.

  • George

    On behalf of the citizen’s of New York, I’d like to apologize to the late Frank Lloyd Wright.

    Honestly though, such a harsh contrast in this proposed tower and the masterpiece that is the station. The combination is anything but harmonious, it’s almost like they had a plan for a tower in advance, got a call about this project, and decided, “Hey, wanna just submit the tower… maybe they’ll buy that?”

  • Andy

    Sky Gardens? What is this, Cloud City?

  • Jonathan

    Shard + window boxes = innovation.

  • luke

    Good idea to put trees on the Metlife building. Now it’s sustainable.

  • Nick

    So we’re down to SOM vs Foster’s then yeah? And to be honest, I’m not sure SOM stand much chance with their monstrosity either.

  • Jim

    More like WTF architecture.

  • john

    Foster’s might be a bit tame and SOM’s may be a bit aggressive, but at least they were cohesive and well-thought schemes (even the observation ring plays into the techiness of SOM’s scheme). But none of these images seem to have anything to do with one another. High Line + tower + forest + weird bubble window + anything else they can think of apparently = ?!??!!?

  • jay

    Some of the renderings are cool (looking up under the street, escalator) but a bunch are superfluous and don’t make sense. Also, the escalator view should have had people in front to help give the forest under the Metlife some scale.

  • Dhruv

    The worst of the three schemes by a long shot. This is just underdeveloped and terrible.

  • Swade

    Those extruded balconies looks really ugly and ruin the whole look of the building and the city. They just look too much out of space. And to my mind a rectangular form would suit much more than that sharp/pyramidal form.

  • Hugh Dismuke

    SOM needs to be thrown out of New York City. This Chicago firm is building monstrosities, fortresses that serve no purpose to the public. Unimaginative and soulless.

    And to build this thing a few blocks from one of the most iconic buildings in the world, the Empire State Building, is a complete insult. The public needs to protest anything being built next to any of New York’s icons.

    If one of these things goes up then 50 more will follow. There are other places these towers can be built around New York. Why so close to the Empire State?