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. Transportation

    If You Drive Less Than 10,000 Miles a Year, You Probably Shouldn't Own a Car

    Up to one-quarter of all U.S. drivers might be better off using ride-sharing services instead.

  2. Transportation

    How Seattle Bucked a National Trend and Got More People to Ride the Bus

    Three experts in three very different positions weigh in on their city’s ridership success.

  3. Construction workers build affordable housing units.
    Equity

    Why Is 'Affordable' Housing So Expensive to Build?

    As costs keep rising, it’s becoming harder and harder for governments to subsidize projects like they’ve done in the past.

  4. Equity

    The Side Pittsburgh Doesn't Want You to See

    Pittsburgh filmmaker Chris Ivey has spent over twelve years documenting the lives of the people displaced so that the city can achieve its “cool” status.  

  5. Mass Transit

    Could These Crazy Intersections Make Us Safer?

    Dispatches from the imagination of transportation engineers.