With its special use permit expired, the push is on to dislodge Madison Square Garden (MSG) from its current location atop Penn Station. The Municipal Art Society (MAS), one group vocally in favor of moving MSG, has asked four leading architects to imagine a future Penn Station unencumbered by the arena. MSG’s owners have asked the city to renew the permit in perpetuity and the city council will issue their decision later this year. Meanwhile, SHoP Architects, Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and SOM have been tasked with creating a dramatic vision that could galvanize New Yorkers in supporting the move.
“MAS has invited these four incredibly distinguished design firms to offer a simple, clear, and compelling articulation of what a new Penn Station and new Madison Square Garden might look like,” Eugenie Birch, Chair of the MAS Board of Directors, said in a statement. “It’s critical that we have some of the best designers in the world tackling this question and that we engage New Yorkers as broadly as possible in understanding how important this work is to the future of our city.”
The group blasted the current arena in the announcement. “New York City deserves a world-class train station and truly dynamic arena but if the City Council approves the Garden’s special permit in perpetuity New York City will have neither,” the MAS said in a statement. The group asserted that the 50-year-old arena is falling behind modern facilities like the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn despite a major renovation that cost nearly $1 billion. “What should be one of the most exciting and dynamic buildings in New York City, is unfortunately one of the least,” MAS said.
The firms have until May 29 to prepare their concepts and a public unveiling ceremony will be held in Midtown to showcase the ideas.