The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) unveiled three architectural proposals that re-imagine the public spaces in and around Grand Central Terminal and the East Midtown neighbourhood in New York City. From a skyway that soars above Grand Central, to a transformed Park Avenue Viaduct, to expansive pedestrian plazas and bicycle paths, the designs (presented as part of the 2012 MAS Summit for New York City) will help inform the future of the area as Grand Central celebrates its 100th anniversary.
SOM’s proposal embraces public space at several levels with Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) re-imagined as Privately Funded Public Spaces (PFPS) and allowing a variety of transformation and new public spaces. Light is brought down to the underground spaces, new corridors are created through buildings to facilitate pedestrian circulation at increased densities, streets are repurposed as public spaces, and a panoramic ring above Grand Central and Midtown becomes a new kind of public experience and symbol of New York’s commitment to public space.
WXY sought to find ways to bring new energy and activity to this neighbourhood by reinvigorating a number of key places, including making the base of the MetLife building a new open space and cultural anchor, opening up Vanderbilt Avenue to create seamless access to the tracks below grade, and transforming the Park Avenue viaduct.
In creating a new public space framework for Midtown, Foster + Partners sought to make a number of small interventions to gradually change the circulation and flow through the streets, buildings, and transit. The focus of their vision is ensuring that the buildings themselves are designed in such a way as to respond to a public space strategy by creating additional room to breathe around Grand Central. With a number of smaller interventions, Midtown’s trajectory is shifted (creating an opportunity to linger and admire) rather than simply race through.