Moynihan Train Hall, Pennsylvania Station
President, Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation
New York, NY
The original Penn Station had been considered America’s greatest train station and the finest piece of public architecture in New York City. It had stood near the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of Senator Moynihan's childhood, and Moynihan remembered its vast halls, and the daily dance of crowds under its Roman arches. But in what was called "the greatest act of vandalism in the history of New York," the late, great Penn Station was torn down in 1963 and dumped into the New Jersey marshes in order to sell off its air rights to a sports arena and office building. The neighborhood had never quite recovered, and Moynihan wanted to set it right.
Moynihan instructed Washburn to form a public-private corporation and go about the business of design, approvals and funding. "Alex, make it inevitable," were his instructions.
Washburn became the Founding President of the Pennsylvania Station Redevelopment Corporation, making inevitable the idea to expand the nation's busiest train station into the historic Farley Post Office building. The rebirth of Penn Station in the is finally becoming a reality for New York in what is now called the Moynihan Train Hall which will open to the public in 2021.
As an architect in charge of a billion-dollar public-private partnership, Washburn guided the design, assembled the financing, and built the foundation for the political alliances that would eventually see the project through to completion. To understand the late, great Penn Station, Washburn sketched daily from old images and translated those into modern instructions for the architects.
The facility will serve millions of passengers, residents and visitors each year, providing a magnificent new gateway to New York. The project will meet New York’s transportation needs well into the 21st century and will create a new station that models itself after the original Pennsylvania Station in both civic amenity and public accommodation. The Plan proposes a station in the lower floors of Farley’s East Building (the original 1913 Building) with a dramatic Ticketing Hall and sky-lit Train Concourse.
The new Moynihan Train Hall will serve as a new front door for New York. The scale of this space is similar to the ticket hall in the original Penn Station. This grand civic space will be enclosed by an elegant structural steel shell structure clad with glass. Natural light will once again greet the millions entering New York.