For DC and NY, Efforts to Improve Rail Stations Take Opposite Tracks

While the decades long effort to augment and improve New York's atrocious Penn Station have stalled, D.C. is moving ahead with plans to expand Union Station and redevelop the land above its tracks. Fred A. Bernstein looks at the two projects.

2 minute read

September 18, 2012, 10:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj

First the good news: with the purchase of the air rights over Union Station's train yard by developer Akridge, a project to build a 3 million
square-foot mixed use development and build "a vast new, glass-roofed train shed" adjacent to the elegant Daniel Burnham-designed station seem set to proceed. 

A 3-hour Acela train ride to the north, "plans for replacing New York's Penn Station, the famously disgraceful
hole under Madison Square Garden, with a more respectable facility in
the Farley Post Office building on the West Side of Eighth Avenue-first
proposed by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in 1993-are in limbo," writes Bernstein.

While there is a modicum of good news at Penn Station, where a $148 million contract
has been awarded to "create street entrances to an
existing concourse under the steps of the post office... the station itself, once designed by David Childs
of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill with a luminous ticketing hall in the
courtyard of the old post office building, is still on hold." 

"But even moving Amtrak's operations to a new Moynihan Station wouldn't
help 90 percent of the commuters who use Penn Station every day," notes Bernstein. "The
only way to create a new train station on that site would be to move the
Garden-and right now, the Dolan family, owners of the arena, are happy
where they are...Meanwhile, the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority (yet another stakeholder) has hired the Los
Angeles office of AECOM to undertake a $7.7 million study of ways of
making the existing Pennsylvania Station less ghastly-called Penn
Station Vision-a strong sign that the station won't be replaced anytime

Wednesday, September 12, 2012 in Architectural Record

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