Moynihan Train Hall

The transformation of the landmark Farley Post Office Building restores the grandeur of rail travel that characterized the original Penn Station and elevates the way millions of people interact with one of the world’s largest cities.

Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2021
  • Design Finish Year 2016
  • Size Site Area: 6.40 acres Building Height: 111 feet Number of Stories: 5 Building Gross Area: 255,000 square feet
  • Transit Mode Bikes,Bus,Heavy Rail,Subway,Taxis/Rideshare
  • Platforms 9
  • Landmark Status New York City Individual Landmark, National Register of Historic Places
  • Year Originally Built 1913
  • Awards
    2018, Excelsior Honor Award for Renovation/Addition, AIA – New York State 2018, Excellence in Civic Space Finalist, Urban Land Institute New York Chapter (ULI NY) 2019, New York City Construction Awards Shortlist: Architectural Design of the Year, New York Build Expo 2018, PEC Project of the Year Award, New York State Society of Professional Engineers, Inc. 2017, New York Design Awards: Gold, DrivenXDesign 2021, Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, New York Landmarks Conservancy 2021, Excelsior Honor Award: Historic Preservation, AIA New York State 2021, Project of the Year, Regional Plan Association 2021, Best Project: Airport/Transit, Engineering News-Record 2021, Excellence in Sustainability Award of Merit, Engineering News-Record 2021, Merit Award: Adaptive Reuse/Historic Preservation, AIA New York State 2021, Project of the Year Finalist, Engineering News-Record 2021, Lumen Award of Merit, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America - New York Section 2021, Finalist: Passenger Stations, Prix Versailles 2021, Transport: Completed Buildings Finalist, World Architecture Festival 2021, A+ Award Public Choice Winner: Transportation Infrastructure, Architizer 2021, Club/Lounge: Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge, NYCxDESIGN 2021, A+ Award Finalist: Transportation Interiors, Architizer 2019, Building the Future Award, New York Building Congress 2018, MASterworks Awards: Best New Infrastructure, Municipal Art Society of New York 2021, NYC's Shining Moment: Ticketed Waiting Room, NYCxDESIGN 2020, Special Award, Society of American Registered Architects - NY 2021, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation 2021, Global Award of Merit: Renovation/Restoration, Engineering News-Record 2021, Excellence in Forensic Analysis/Renovation/Retrofit/Rehabilitation of Structures, SEAoNY 2019, Shortlist: Best Future Building Under Construction, ABB LEAF 2021, Club/Lounge: Ticketed Waiting Room, NYCxDESIGN 2021, Civic Development Winner, Urban Land Institute New York Chapter (ULI NY)
  • Collaborators
    Domingo Gonzales Associates Code Consultants, Inc. Skanska USA Building Inc. Schlaich Bergermann Partner Mijksenaar USA Higgins & Quasebarth Weidlinger Protective Design Practice Amtrak WSP BNP Associates Inc. Thornton Tomasetti Cerami & Associates Ducibella Venter & Santore Severud Associates Systra Consulting, Inc. Pentagram Van Deusen & Associates Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc. Jaros Baum & Bolles Building Conservation Associates, Inc. Billings Jackson Design Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Long Island Rail Road Metropolitan Transportation Authority The Related Companies Vornado Realty Trust Watson Rockwell Group Peter Pennoyer Architects
Project Facts
  • Status Construction Complete
  • Completion Year 2021
  • Design Finish Year 2016
  • Size Site Area: 6.40 acres Building Height: 111 feet Number of Stories: 5 Building Gross Area: 255,000 square feet
  • Transit Mode Bikes,Bus,Heavy Rail,Subway,Taxis/Rideshare
  • Platforms 9
  • Landmark Status New York City Individual Landmark, National Register of Historic Places
  • Year Originally Built 1913
  • Awards
    2018, Excelsior Honor Award for Renovation/Addition, AIA – New York State 2018, Excellence in Civic Space Finalist, Urban Land Institute New York Chapter (ULI NY) 2019, New York City Construction Awards Shortlist: Architectural Design of the Year, New York Build Expo 2018, PEC Project of the Year Award, New York State Society of Professional Engineers, Inc. 2017, New York Design Awards: Gold, DrivenXDesign 2021, Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award, New York Landmarks Conservancy 2021, Excelsior Honor Award: Historic Preservation, AIA New York State 2021, Project of the Year, Regional Plan Association 2021, Best Project: Airport/Transit, Engineering News-Record 2021, Excellence in Sustainability Award of Merit, Engineering News-Record 2021, Merit Award: Adaptive Reuse/Historic Preservation, AIA New York State 2021, Project of the Year Finalist, Engineering News-Record 2021, Lumen Award of Merit, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America - New York Section 2021, Finalist: Passenger Stations, Prix Versailles 2021, Transport: Completed Buildings Finalist, World Architecture Festival 2021, A+ Award Public Choice Winner: Transportation Infrastructure, Architizer 2021, Club/Lounge: Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge, NYCxDESIGN 2021, A+ Award Finalist: Transportation Interiors, Architizer 2019, Building the Future Award, New York Building Congress 2018, MASterworks Awards: Best New Infrastructure, Municipal Art Society of New York 2021, NYC's Shining Moment: Ticketed Waiting Room, NYCxDESIGN 2020, Special Award, Society of American Registered Architects - NY 2021, Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation 2021, Global Award of Merit: Renovation/Restoration, Engineering News-Record 2021, Excellence in Forensic Analysis/Renovation/Retrofit/Rehabilitation of Structures, SEAoNY 2019, Shortlist: Best Future Building Under Construction, ABB LEAF 2021, Club/Lounge: Ticketed Waiting Room, NYCxDESIGN 2021, Civic Development Winner, Urban Land Institute New York Chapter (ULI NY)
  • Collaborators
    Domingo Gonzales Associates Code Consultants, Inc. Skanska USA Building Inc. Schlaich Bergermann Partner Mijksenaar USA Higgins & Quasebarth Weidlinger Protective Design Practice Amtrak WSP BNP Associates Inc. Thornton Tomasetti Cerami & Associates Ducibella Venter & Santore Severud Associates Systra Consulting, Inc. Pentagram Van Deusen & Associates Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, Inc. Jaros Baum & Bolles Building Conservation Associates, Inc. Billings Jackson Design Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Long Island Rail Road Metropolitan Transportation Authority The Related Companies Vornado Realty Trust Watson Rockwell Group Peter Pennoyer Architects

Creating a new front door for New York

Moynihan Train Hall is one of the most monumental civic projects undertaken in New York City in a generation. More than a century after the construction of the original Penn Station, and almost six decades after its demolition, the opening of the Train Hall on New Year’s Day in 2021 realized a long-held New York dream. The project, championed by the visionary Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the 1990s, expands the existing Penn Station with a 255,000-square-foot, modern rail hub inside the Beaux-Arts Farley Building.

Situated across Penn Station between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and West 31st and West 33rd Streets, the Train Hall reverses the dark, overcrowded experience that so many commuters have endured for decades. It brings light to the station’s concourses for the first time in more than 50 years, doubles the total concourse space, and restores the dignified sense of arrival that was lost with the destruction of McKim, Mead & White’s original station.

Moynihan
Moynihan Train Hall. Dave Burk © Empire State Development | SOM

A model for transit and adaptive reuse

The only remnants of the original Penn Station are its concourses and platforms. In the 1960s, these subgrade spaces, once illuminated by a grand skylight, were covered over by low ceilings and downgraded to accommodate only 200,000 people. Five decades later, the number of people passing through the station every day swelled to more than 700,000, while the Farley Building – also designed by McKim, Mead & White, with a grand staircase and colonnade that echoed the firm’s design for Penn Station – had become almost entirely vacant. Built above Penn Station’s tracks, the Farley Building was the perfect place for a new train hall.

The demolition of the original Penn Station helped catalyze the modern historic preservation movement, and the lessons from that movement guided the creation of Moynihan Train Hall. Rather than treating the interior of the Farley Building as a blank slate, SOM developed a modern design that celebrates the historic, landmarked building. Completing an incredible transformation of a once insular workplace, the design brings in sunlight, emanates a sense of warmth, and integrates artistic elements into a civic space that travelers have not experienced in decades.

50%
increase in concourse space at Penn Station

Skylight and trusses: Merging old and new

The Main Concourse is situated in the Farley Building’s former mail sorting room, a previously sky-lit space that was shrouded during World War II. Today, a new skylight traverses this concourse – bringing sunlight back inside while also reclaiming the magnificence of the original, sky-lit Penn Station. The new ceiling is composed of four catenary vaults, each of which comprise more than 500 glass and steel panels that create a moiré effect. At the edges of each vault, the panels thicken to sustain greater structural loads, while at the apexes, which rise 92 feet above the concourse, the panels’ depth lightens to enhance the airy ambience of the space.

Moynihan
Dave Burk © Empire State Development | SOM

Three massive, original steel trusses, which were invisible to the postal workers a century ago, were uncovered to become a focal point of the design. As the framework for the new skylight, the bolted trusses enhance the sense of lightness within the Train Hall – seamlessly combining a contemporary architectural element with the workmanship of the original structure. Going beyond preservation, the skylight at Moynihan is a rejuvenation and an exemplar for how to reimagine historic buildings.

Skylight and trusses: Merging old and new

A design decades in the making

A project of such an immense civic scale can take time to come together, and it’s no secret that the completion of Moynihan Train Hall was decades in the making. SOM led the design vision nearly every step of the way, starting in 1998, when the firm was tasked with bringing Senator Moynihan’s vision to life.

The first design, unveiled by President Bill Clinton in 1999, would have converted about 30 percent of the Farley Building into a train hall. A concave glass structure would have risen 150 feet above a mid-block ticketing hall to announce the civic presence of the station, while a skylight above the former mail sorting room would have rested on the building’s original steel trusses. Seven years later, SOM’s second proposal was designed with barrel-vaulted skylights, and included a plan for an entrance on Ninth Avenue in anticipation of new development farther west.

Clinton
President Bill Clinton, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Governor George Pataki at a press unveiling. © SOM
Farley Post Office
SOM’s design for the Farley Post Office building. © SOM

Across the years, all the way through the final design, generations of SOM architects were united by a common goal: to increase concourse space at the busiest station in the Western Hemisphere, and to restore the long-lost grandeur of arriving to New York. The previous designs were a harbinger of the future – the final skylight blends elements of the ideas that came before. Manhattan’s westward development also became more than just a plan. With the development of Manhattan West and Hudson Yards both underway, SOM designed Moynihan Train Hall in direct response to a rapidly evolving neighborhood, one that brings the entire Penn Station complex from the edge of the West Side to the center.

Sketch
A sketch of the proposed train hall by David Childs. © SOM
""
Rendering of the proposed “media wall” in the early design. © Pixelbypixel

Far more than a rail hub, Moynihan Train Hall is designed to be a mixed-use destination. The reshaping of the Annex fully extends the Train Hall from Eighth Avenue to Ninth Avenue, and in this additional space, retail and offices will elevate the building into a vibrant hub of activity. The retail will total 120,000 square feet of space, and about 730,000 square feet of commercial space on the upper floors will serve as offices for Facebook, Amtrak, the LIRR, and the continued presence of the United States Postal Service.

The ground-level retail space will also be part of one, contiguous pedestrian experience spanning from Seventh Avenue through Hudson Yards. Starting at SOM’s East End Gateway on Seventh Avenue, New Yorkers, commuters, and visitors from around the world will be able to enter Penn Station, walk through a redesigned LIRR concourse and the West End Concourse, and enter Moynihan Train Hall, which will lead to Manhattan West and Hudson Yards beyond.

East End Gateway.
© Lucas Blair Simpson | SOM
West End Concourse
© Magda Biernat
Manhattan West Plaza
Rendering of future view from 9th Avenue looking west through the Manhattan West Development. © Miller Hare Limited
Moynihan
Skylight detail. Dave Burk © Empire State Development | SOM
Moynihan
Skylight detail. Dave Burk © Empire State Development | SOM

They whistled at it, paraded in it, posed against it, and, for a few moments, forgot themselves. They came to instill civic pride in their kids and remind themselves of all that New York could be. And they left with the satisfaction that comes when your city does something monumental, and does it right.


Grand entrances, materials, and artwork

Moynihan Train Hall is accessible through a variety of grand entrances. On Eighth Avenue, two entrances flank the Farley Building’s staircase and lead directly to the Main Concourse. These ingress points are supplemented by entrances on 31st Street, 33rd Street, and Ninth Avenue. Along 31st and 33rd Streets, new mid-block canopies help identify the civic presence of the Train Hall and complement the original arched windows of the Farley Building. Inside, public art installations commissioned by Empire State Development, in partnership with the Public Art Fund, are located at both mid-block entrance ceilings – with the work of artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset at 31st Street and artist Kehinde Wiley at 33rd Street. In the center of the mid-block passageway, between the murals, a second skylight brings in natural illumination and maintains the essence of the Main Concourse.

Carefully selected materials unify the entrances and concourses. Tennessee Quaker Gray marble—the same material used for the Farley Building’s historic facade and for Grand Central Terminal—lends to Moynihan Train Hall a sense of serenity and grandeur.

Adding critical infrastructure, and a neighborhood amenity

SOM designed Moynihan Train Hall in multiple phases. Phase I, completed in 2017, encompassed the construction of the new West End Concourse, a significant widening of an existing concourse connecting Penn Station and the Farley Building. The new Train Hall – the second phase – primarily serves Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak riders. It provides direct access to 17 of Penn Station’s tracks via 11 new escalators, 15 new elevators, and 10 extended or improved elevators. It adds crucial public amenities, including large seating areas, commercial space, and direct subway access. With new mechanical systems, among various other sustainability measures, the project is also the first in the world to achieve LEED BD+C for Transit certification, with a silver rating.

Moynihan
West End Concourse. © Magda Biernat

In addition to welcoming hundreds of thousands of daily passengers by LIRR and Amtrak, the Train Hall serves as an iconic gathering place on Manhattan’s West Side. Its generous civic spaces, public artworks, and extensive pedestrian circulation make it an asset for the district. A new entrance on Ninth Avenue reshapes the Annex – a former parking garage and office space added to the Farley Building in the 1930s – into a 21st-century, mixed-use anchor for the neighborhood. The entrance is flanked by restaurants, and aligns directly with the entry to the new Manhattan West development.

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