Houston, United States
SOM is playing a central role in reimagining New York City’s Pennsylvania Station, the busiest train station in the Western Hemisphere and a hub for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), New Jersey Transit, Amtrak, and two subway lines. The firm’s work, a series of dramatic interventions that are transforming the travel experience throughout the multiblock complex, reached a major milestone on the final day of 2020. Just hours before trains first rolled into the SOM-designed Moynihan Train Hall, the East End Gateway opened as a brand new entrance to Penn Station on Seventh Avenue.
The gateway, designed to bring the grandeur of Moynihan Train Hall to the eastern side of Penn Station, represents the first phase of a complete revamp of the LIRR concourses. It brings natural light into the concourses for the first time in five decades and establishes an easily identifiable entrance.
The East End Gateway connects directly to the LIRR Train Hall from the street. With three escalators and a staircase, it nearly doubles the vertical circulation capacity of this overcrowded segment of the station. The entrance is also set back 130 feet from the curb, making more sidewalk space for crowds and aligning directly with the Empire State Building to give views of the iconic landmark.
These views are framed by a monumental glass and steel canopy, which marks the entrance’s urban presence and carries Moynihan Train Hall’s skylit aesthetic eastward. The structure, designed and built in collaboration with Skanska, AECOM and Seele, rises in a gentle convex curve that reaches 40 feet above street level. Pre-tensioned steel cables, spanning from the base to the top, support the smooth, high-performance glass enclosure. Underground, a map of New York State rings the steel spandrels and situates travelers within the region.
The entrance also plays a much larger role within its urban setting. It is a gateway not only into Penn Station, but to the reimagined Far West Side, from Manhattan West to Hudson Yards. When the next phase the of concourse overhaul is complete in 2023, the transit hub will expand capacity even further. The concourse will nearly double in width and the ceiling height will rise to 18 feet. The improvements will also include new, intuitive wayfinding, a new elevator on Seventh Avenue, and brighter lighting with enhanced air flow. Each of these elements will transform Penn Station into a destination, and a place that reaffirms its role in the civic realm.