The new Moynihan Train Hall, Wednesday in the village. Unveiled by Cuomo, this is a sight to behold – a memorial scaling waiting room for Amtrak and LIRR riders that can blink eyelids twice. With an eye-popping, 92-foot-high skylight, it is a vision from heaven for travelers located inside the underground Penn Station, the western world’s most hated place to catch a train.
Hall, James A. A ventilated donut hole within the Farley Post Office building is the focal point of a large, $ 1.6 billion planned complex inside the Farley building between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and West 31st and 33rd Streets. This will eventually include entrances, routes between routes, metro links, waiting areas, lounges, stores and restaurants. Hall and Penn Station one block east, together called the Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex, would have 50 percent more flat space than Penn Part alone.
This comes after the ever-changing plans of the late 1980s. Daniel Patrick Moynihan first dreamed of a stunning replacement for the original Penn Station in the 1980s, which was disgustingly demolished in the 1960s. Despite the Cuomo-19, Cuomo deserves credit for starting it and seeing it through construction.
The train hall, which opens on Friday, is believed to ease the crowds of mice-nesting at the Penn Station in detention below Madison Square Garden, where 650,000 souls squeezed into the built space of only 250,000 in the 1960s. LIRR riders can now board and exit trains at either facility while Amtrak users will only use the new train hall.
How well this works can be seen until the epidemic-thin crush of riders kicks off next week. But the hall’s powerful roof is sure to be a hit with the public.
The hall looks smaller than the suggested renderings at first sight. Apart from the expensive marble and wooden ceilings – it is also relatively mundane.
Three monumental steel trusses, remnants of the post office’s mail-sorting room, divide the acres of roof glass into four “parabolic” vaults, each containing 500 glass and steel panels, such as a web.
It gives more light than the skylight roofs at the World Trade Center Oculus and Fulton Transit Center. When the sun comes out and gives a golden glow to the entire hall, it is awesome.
But the unfinished appendages of the hall are a deceptive maze of escalators, stairs, lounges and corridors. Despite the sea of signs, the fastest route to Eighth Avenue is difficult to find. If the old Penn Station is called the “sound of the times”, as venerable writers said, then Moynihan can capture the voices of people trying to figure out which way.
Project architects make SOM and politician Moynihan dissatisfied by constantly comparing it to the impossible pen-station for impossible-to-replicate. Sorry, friends, this is not even close despite the superficial resemblance. Moynihan Hall is to be enjoyed as it is less of a masterpiece, but a good example of “adaptive reuse” architecture and a major improvement at Penn Station that we all hate.