Now Arriving: A Manhattan Transit Landscape

This studio, third in a series in New York City, contemplates the insertion of a landscape where none exists today, where more than 650,000 commuters and visitors arrive in or depart Manhattan through the dreaded Penn Station—the busiest transit portal in the world. Another 225,000 arrive or depart daily through the Port Authority Bus Terminal, six blocks to the north. In between, a tangle of ramps from the Lincoln Tunnel brings the occupants of 1.3 million vehicles monthly and the world’s busiest dedicated bus lane to the same neighborhood. Where do they land? In the most forgettable part of midtown Manhattan.

After tackling Broadway and Fifth Avenue at Madison Square Park, and Broadway at Lincoln Center, we are prepared for a more dramatic act: We’ll propose a connective arrival landscape for New York City. 

With Amtrak moving across 8th Avenue to the new Moynihan Station, and Madison Square Garden needing to relocate by 2024, we’ll assume a reorganization of Penn Station’s concourse level for the LIRR, NJ Transit, and the 1, 2, 3, A, C, and E NYC subway lines. But we’ll reject current proposals for a rebuilt station at grade. This site should become New York City’s greatest pubic square—an urban landscape that arouses the senses and instigates an immediate connection with the city’s ethos, character, and intensity. Moreover, it should connect with the other transit sites in an unbridled grab for increased public realm that would guide future redevelopment opportunities. Not the privatized kind of space we see in nearby Hudson Yards, but a street-level, ecologically productive landscape network that joins these sites with Broadway, Herald Square, Greely Square, Times Square, and the Hudson River.

Urban VIII and Sixtus V carved new thoroughfares through Rome for procession and decorum. Haussmann pushed travel routes through the medieval core of Paris to move troops and control street life. We will push an ambitious amount of productive civic landscape into the fabric of midtown Manhattan.