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New York Penn Station’s stylish new entrance invites travelers to the train concourse and the city

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Transportation & Parking Facilities

New York Penn Station’s stylish new entrance invites travelers to the train concourse and the city

East End Gateway part of a larger, multiyear transformation.


By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | May 6, 2021
Penn Station's East End Gateway entrance

The 40-ft-tall East End Gateway, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, reshapes one of New York City's busiest corners. Images: Lucas Bliar Simpson (c) SOM

Great fanfare was accorded the opening, last January, of the $1.6 billion 486,000-sf Moynihan Train Hall, an adaptive reuse of the 107-year-old Farley Post Office Building and the first major step toward the reimagination of New York City’s Pennsylvania Station, the busiest train station in the Western Hemisphere. The Train Hall “gives the city the gateway it deserves,” wrote the New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, which designed the Train Hall, also was part of that building team that included Skanska, AECOM, and Seele on the East End Gateway, a 40-ft-tall street-level glass and steel canopy that provides a new entrance to Penn Station at 33rd Street and 7th Avenue. SOM—which had been attached to the Train Hall project since the 1990s—recently released new photos of the Gateway.

A view through East End Gateway's glass canopy 

The structure is positioned to give travelers a better view of the Empire State Building.

 

The entrance is set back 130 ft from the curb to ease pedestrian crowding and to align the structure more directly with the Empire State Building for viewing that iconic skyscraper. It is also another natural light source into the station that, previously, had been like navigating a hermetically sealed cave.

The Gateway’s pre-tensioned steel cables support its smooth, high-performance glass enclosure. Parametric analysis informed the design and engineering of the curved glass and connector elements.

East End Gateway connects directly to the Long Island Railroad Main Concourse from the street. Its three escalators double the entrance’s vertical circulation capacity. Underground, a map of New York State rings steel spandrels and helps to place travelers within the region.

Escalators leading to train station concourse

The three escalators double the entrance's vertical circulation capacity. 

 

OTHER IMPROVEMENTS IN THE WORKS

Steel skeleton supports the Gateway's glass canopy.

Pre-tension steel supports the Gateway's high-performance glass.

 

The Gateway represents the first phase in the complete revamp of the LIRR concourses. The next phase, scheduled for completion in 2023, will nearly double the concourse’s width and raise its ceiling height to 18 ft. Other improvements will include new wayfinding, a new elevator at 7th Avenue, brighter lighting, and enhanced airflow.

There has been talk about relocating Madison Square Garden—which currently sits above Penn Station—across the street in order to open the above-ground area for the train station, which also serves Amtrak and New Jersey Transit. Before the pandemic, 650,000 people per day used Penn Station.

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