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New York Times Architecture Critic Champions HOK Plan for Penn Station Makeover

Michael Kimmelman writes that the proposal by developer ASTM North America (in conjunction with HOK and PAU) is “clearly superior” to Metropolitan Transit Authority’s plan to overhaul the nation’s busiest rail hub.

A plan put forth by ASTM North America to fix New York’s dilapidated and congested Penn Station has received another positive review—this one from Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for the New York Times.

In a column published July 7, Kimmelman writes that the ASTM’s plan, designed by HOK in collaboration with PAU, deserves serious consideration from the Metropolitan Transit Authority (M.T.A.) and Governor Kathy Hochul.

The M.T.A. is currently pursuing its own plan to renovate Penn Station, which serves more than 600,000 daily commuters.

Writes Kimmelman: “[A] highly detailed and, at the moment, clearly superior but unofficial proposal has suddenly emerged to challenge the one that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been slowly pulling together. At the very least, the new proposal, from a private infrastructure developer called ASTM North America, may be the disruption needed to get Albany moving.”

M.T.A.’s renovation is estimated to cost $7.5 billion. ASTM’s unofficial and competing plan would transform the station for $6 billion under a private-public partnership.

Continues Kimmelman: “Cost aside, there’s a lot to admire here, among other things how the plan prioritizes the surrounding streets and sidewalks and resolves a host of deeply unsexy back-of-house problems involving things like Amtrak storage and the Garden’s loading dock, on which the quality and design of the commuter spaces ultimately depend. Seeking inspiration from exalted precedents like Grand Central Terminal and Schinkel’s Altes Museum in Berlin, ASTM’s architecture at this early stage is a little stiff and self-serious but it clearly conveys the all-important point that a gateway worthy of New York, and of the millions of working people who rely on it, needs to offer more than high ceilings, clear signage and hot bagels. It needs to be a source of public pride.”

Read Kimmelman’s full column: Penn Station Is a Perpetual Mess. Change May Be at Hand.

Check out additional coverage of the ASTM/HOK/PAU proposal by New York Magazine’s Justin Davidson and The Architect’s Newspaper.

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