New York, New Jersey partner with Amtrak, seeking designers for Penn Station rebuild

© MTA/Penn Station Reconstruction

Reconstruction and modernization of Penn Station is underway in a big way, uniting New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New Jersey TRANSIT and Amtrak in a hunt for proposals from architecture and engineering firms to guide its design.

“The transformation of Penn Station into a world-class, commuter-focused transportation facility befitting the central hub of the greatest city in the world cannot come soon enough,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “We have shared a vision of a single-level unified station with soaring ceilings that welcome natural light, clear, intuitive sightlines, more circulation space and more connectivity to streets and platforms. With this announcement, the MTA is taking a concrete step toward making that vision a reality.”

She added that new federal resources are available for the Penn Station project as well, which, according to a master plan study announced in the fall, will include a spacious single-level concourse, complete with high ceilings, natural light, smoother connectivity through paths and to platforms, along with larger entrances to help with flow. The goal is an easily navigable facility that will also help revitalize the surrounding neighborhood and provide a shot in the arm to both social services and transit access.

“As the centerpiece of one of the most important transportation networks in the world, Penn Station requires an atmosphere and appearance that reflect its tremendous importance to the region,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said. “For several decades Penn Station has not provided New Jersey commuters and visitors with the comfort and convenience they deserve. Now, as a result of partnerships across agencies and state lines, we are prepared to take the next step toward the long-awaited transformation of this pivotal transportation hub.”

Penn Station is the busiest train station in the U.S. Reconstruction efforts of the major transit hub are predicted to cost between $6-7 billion, and take around five to six years to complete. These efforts will be complemented by both a Penn Station Area Public Realm Fund funded by a portion of the real estate revenues generated from new redevelopment of general project plan sites, beginning at $50 million in early project revenues, as well as by establishment of a Penn Station Area Public Realm Task Force.

Consisting of representatives from state and local agencies, local elected officials, community boards, civic organizations and more, that task force was created by Empire State Development to advise it on public realm improvements to revitalize and beautify the area surrounding Penn Station. The task force will create a Public Realm Concept Plan with a prioritized list of desired public improvements and principles to guide public realm design, programming and operations.

Amid all this, a review of the Penn Reconstruction project is expected to be put forward by affiliated railroads, in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

“The revitalization of Penn Station will catalyze new investments and development in the surrounding neighborhoods, supporting the overall economic growth of the community, and provide a long-overdue modern transit hub for residents, commuters and visitors,” Hope Knight, Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner, said. “Through the Public Realm Task Force, we will develop a sustainable plan for improvements in the areas around Penn Station, incorporating feedback from the people who live and work in this critical business district.”