If you’ve ever been to New York City’s Penn Station then you are familiar with one of the world’s most distinctively oppressive, depressing, poorly-designed, irksome and unattractive public spaces. What’s more, the station replaced one of the most beautiful, grandest, and historic architectural gems of New York.
For the past 50-plus years, Penn Station has occupied a thorn in NYC’s side. It long ago became a joke, an embarrassment, an example of architectural design gone wrong, and a bemoaned part of the NYC experience that bonds those who regularly travel through the station. It’s an important but critically user-UN-friendly piece of transportation infrastructure. New Yorkers have tolerated and lamented the utter inanity of its design and aesthetic, shrugging in disbelief and resignation that such an ugly and terrible train station could be built and that it could conceivably be considered better than the original station, which was demolished in 1963.
This is about to change. The craptastic Penn Station is about to open a massive new extension that is a start at architectural redemption, pointing to a brighter future and a restoration of faith. The new terminal building is called the Moynihan Train Hall, and it’s everything that the current Penn Station is not. The new hall is airy and high-ceilinged, beautiful, artful, filled with natural light, and full of commissioned artwork and thoughtful design touches. In short, it feels like a place you might want to be and linger rather than a place you want to get the hell out of as quickly as possible with the least possible amount of inevitable irritation. In an article and photo essay, The New York Time provides a sneak peak of the new station building. As a former New Yorker who called the city home for 15 years, Penn Station was a place best avoided if possible. For the first time ever, I actually want to visit it and to experience the new architecture and space.