Skidmore, Owings & Merill was invited to re-imagine New York’s iconic Grand Central Terminal, in honor of its 100th birthday. Led by partners Roger Duffy, FAIA and T.J. Gottesdiener, FAIA, SOM’s proposal, presented at the MAS 2012 Summit, highlights three solutions: pedestrian corridors for increased circulation, additional levels of public space and most groundbreaking of all – circular floating observation deck, rising above the Terminal, providing 360-degree panorama of the city. This design challenge happened at the moment when the rezoning proposal from the New York Department of City Planning took place, which, if approved, would encourage increasing the density around the station, along with the development of new office towers.
The surprising moving deck, sliding up and down the sides of two new skyscrapers, has actually been presented as a logical response to New York’s present urban condition – Roger Duffy argued that throughout the history of the city, urban growth has always been matched by grand civic gestures. At SOM, they further suggested that the hovering deck would necessarily provoke the improvement of the public space around the office buildings, while offering a new iconic landmark. The suspended deck would move vertically, bringing people from Grand Central up to the top of New York’s skyline, offering striking experience and view over 21st-century metropolis.
SOM’s first proposed strategy advocated restructuring Privately Owned Public spaces, enabling pedestrian corridors to be created through multiple city blocks, connecting the Terminal to the surrounding urban attractors. The second offered privately funded but publicly owned additional levels of public space – above and below the existing.
SOM was one of three architecture firms invited by MAS to present ideas about the future of Grand Central Terminal’s public realm, along with Foster + Partners and WXY Architecture + Urban Design.