SOM

Architects honor New York's revered train station with a proposal that might make you want to dunk.

Never has an architectural proposal made me want to dunk so badly.

This historic reimagining of the Manhattan skyline, which sets my brain Jell-O all a-jiggle with excitement, is Skidmore, Owings & Merrill's plan for improving the looks and functionality of Grand Central Station. How did this incredible concept come into being? Earlier this year, the Municipal Art Society of New York asked architects to celebrate the building's 100th anniversary by submitting visionary schemes for its next hundred years. SOM partners Roger Duffy and T.J. Gottesdiener, who must've been racking triple-doubles all night long, looked at the revered station and thought: Give it a hoop.

Not that they call it that. The delightful discus is actually a "circular pedestrian observation deck" that moves up and down on a power assist from its supporting skyscrapers. Sightseers who want to experience the city in a different way can hop onto this levitating public space and be treated to a sky-high panorama of New York in minutes. Whether you think that's a great plan or not might have a lot to do with how your stomach reacts to this image:

Don't jump, Photoshop man!

The hovering ring wasn't the only thing SOM talked about when it presented its Grand Central humdinger to the Municipal Art Society last week (along with Foster + Partners and WXY Architecture + Urban Design). The architects would also like to stick floors of public space beneath and above the existing structure and vein the surrounding blocks with pedestrian corridors to reduce street congestion. But the world's biggest Life Saver is definitely the crown jewel of their submission, with them effusing: "It is a gesture at the scale of the city that acts both as a spectacular experience as well as an iconic landmark and a symbol of a 21st-century New York City."

This proposal comes at a time when New York is deciding whether to allow more skyscrapers around Grand Central. If the municipal-planning scale tips in favor of the developers, this god-almighty loop could conceivably shadow Manhattanites in their super-dense future metropolis. Think about that as you let these concept drawings sink in (look closely at the third image, and you can see Carmelo Anthony hanging from the rim):

All images courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. H/t to Dezeen.)

MORE FROM THE ATLANTIC CITIES:

A Brief History of Air-Conditioning on the New York Subway

What the Heck Is This Thing?

A Matchmaker for New York's Privately Owned Public Spaces

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Four houses of wood and glass sit on the water.
    Environment

    Are These Dutch Floating Homes a Solution for Rising Seas?

    Houseboats have long been a common sight near Amsterdam, but a new community may signal a premise that could work elsewhere, too.

  2. A woman sits reading on a rooftop garden, with the dense city of Tokyo surrounding her.
    Solutions

    Designing a Megacity for Mental Health

    A new report assesses how Tokyo’s infrastructure affects residents’ emotional well-being, offering lessons for other cities.

  3. Environment

    Visualize the Path of the Eclipse With Live Traffic Data

    On Google Maps, a mass migration in progress.

  4. A city overpass with parked cars and sparse trees
    Civic Life

    How 'Temporary Urbanism' Can Transform Struggling Industrial Towns

    Matchmaking empty spaces with local businesses and the tiny house movement are innovative solutions that can help post-industrial cities across Europe and North America adapt to the future.

  5. POV

    Grenfell Was No Ordinary Accident

    The catastrophic fire that killed at least 80 in London was the inevitable byproduct of an ideology that vilified the poor.