Grand Central Re-imagined

Yesterday Oct 18, Norman Foster presented his re-imagining of New York's Grand Central Station along with other architects at the MAS 2012 Summit.  The station turns 100 this February, and with that it will soon be taking on more passengers than ever, with the expansion of the LIRR East Side Access to the iconic structure.  Grand Central was designed to support 75,000 people a day, but it routinely handles about ten times that amount with often a million passengers on peak days.

The station is consumed with overcrowding; connections to the rail and subway lines beneath the concourse are inadequate; and the arrival and departure experience is poor. Added to that, the surrounding streets are choked with traffic and pedestrians are marginalized.  The rapid growth of tall buildings in the vicinity has all but consumed the Terminal.

Within the station, the proposal creates wider concourses, with new and improved entrances.  Externally, streets will be reconfigured as shared vehicle/pedestrian routes, and Vanderbilt Avenue fully pedestrianized.  The proposal also creates new civic spaces that will provide Grand Central with an appropriate urban setting for the next 100 years.

The 42nd street entrance to the south, where access is severely constrained, will be widened to fill the entire elevation by using existing openings, thus greatly easing accessibility.  The access via tunnels on the northern approach from Park Avenue will be rebalanced in favor of pedestrians by creating grander, enlarged underground spaces through the Helmsley building.  Lexington Avenue to the east will be tree-lined with wider sidewalks and will benefit from more prominent and enhanced tunnel access to Grand Central Terminal.

Pedestrianizing Vanderbilt Avenue to the west would be extended.  The street would be anchored to the south by a major new enlarged civic space between 43rd Street and the west entrance to the Terminal and to the north by a plaza accommodating new entrances to the East Side Access lines.  Trees, sculpture and street cafes will bring life and new breathing space to Grand Central Terminal.

At platform and concourse levels where congestion is particularly acute for travelers on the 4,5,6,and 7 lines, the design radically enlarged the connecting public areas, to address the huge increase in passenger traffic.  A generous new concourse will be created beneath the west entrance plaza on Vanderbilt Avenue connecting directly into the main station concourse.

This visionary master plan with its focus on pedestrians and travelers will allow Grand Central Terminal to regain the civic stature that it deserves as a major New York landmark and an appropriate twenty-first century transport hub.