A British architect who redesigned one of London’s busiest train stations will oversee the redevelopment of Penn Station, transit officials announced Wednesday.
The MTA board signed off on a $58 million contract for a pair of companies to design the reconstruction of the busy Midtown train hub. The companies — FXCollaborative Architects and WSP — will tap John McAslan as the architect for the project.
McAslan’s firm in 2012 led the design for the restoration of the King’s Cross station, a rail hub in the heart of London that dates to 1852. The project added a new departures concourse to the station and rebuilt its ceiling with hundreds of glass panels to bring in natural light.
Gov. Hochul and MTA chairman Janno Lieber want to bring that kind of natural light into Penn Station — but have no plans to relocate Madison Square Garden, which has buried the rail hub in darkness since the 1960s.
Lieber has instead pitched a concept that would heighten the ceilings in Penn Station and add larger, more visible entrances. One of those proposed entrances would replace Madison Square Garden’s defunct taxi stand between Seventh and Eighth Aves., which would enable some natural light to enter the station below.
“The goal is to have a place which is much easier for passengers to circulate… they’ll be able to spread out through a modern terminal like Moynihan Train Hall,” Lieber said.
The controversial Penn Station redevelopment hinges on the development of 10 new Midtown skyscrapers. The property taxes from the proposed buildings would pay for 12.5% of the construction, but a watchdog report published in July found that the developers are poised to get a $1.2 billion tax break as an incentive to build them.
The project also includes the expansion of Penn Station a block south of W. 31st St, which would require the state to seize private property.
The companies hired Wednesday could also be tapped to redesign the subway stations on either side of Penn Station, according to contract documents. The project could also include the restoration of Gimbels Passageway, an underground walkway between the station and Herald Square that was closed in the early 1980s due to crime concerns.