Foster + Partners unveils $10 billion redesign for Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan

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Foster + Partners unveils $10 billion redesign for Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan

The new terminal would close a portion of 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues to create an “iconic atrium entrance” the Port Authority says. (Rendering by Foster + Partners/Courtesy PANYNJ)

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) recently unveiled renderings of a $10 billion facelift for the Port Authority Bus Terminal—a notorious transportation hub it operates in Manhattan. The Port Authority Bus Terminal’s redesign is by Foster + Partners in-sync with the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).

The announcement signals the start of the draft environmental impact statement process for the proposed bus terminal replacement. Moving forward, key stakeholders, commuters, and the surrounding community will be able to weigh in on the redesign for a transit hub that services over 200,000 passengers on an average weekday.

Today, the Port Authority Bus Terminal is widely regarded as the most decrepit transit hub in New York. For seventy years, bus passengers have languished in the Lincoln Tunnel only to emerge in an artificially lit, labyrinthine transit center where way finding is nightmarish. The new building by Foster + Partners will replace the existing structure with bones from 1950 designed by Walter McQuade under the direction of Robert Moses. It will also tear down a signature addition that was made to the Bus Terminal’s facade between 1995 and 2008, when PKSB Architects designed a titanium grill around the terminal’s ramp and bridges.

Existing Entrance (Courtesy PANYNJ)
New Entrance (Rendering by Foster + Partners/Courtesy PANYNJ)

PANYNJ announced in 2022 that Foster + Partners, alongside the Chicago-based design and engineering firm Epstein, would lead the redesign. The proposed building shows multi-story, light-filled spaces in parts of the Bus Terminal that, today, have depressingly low ceiling heights illuminated by damp halogen lamps that date back to the 1980s. The replacement project would also permanently close a portion of 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues to create an “iconic atrium entrance” the Port Authority says. Renderings also show a new facility for bus storage and staging, new electric bus charging stations, a “community-friendly outwardly facing retail” area, and new ramps between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues.

Additionally, the new bus terminal will have more capacity for curbside inter-city buses that, today, pick-up and drop-passengers on city streets. This will reduce congestion, officials note. Moreover, the redesign posits 3.5 acres of publicly accessible green space on Port Authority property by decking over the currently below-grade Dyer Avenue “cut.” Cumulatively, the design upgrades will make the bus terminal “an asset rather than an eyesore to the surrounding neighborhoods,” Port Authority said.

Before (Courtesy PANYNJ)
After (Rendering by Foster + Partners/Courtesy PANYNJ)

To help finance the project, the new Bus Terminal will also have skyscrapers built on top of it, officials said. Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said the project will be financed by New York tax payers and real estate developers, with the city’s PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) program—the same mechanism used to help pay for Moynihan Train Hall. So far, Cotton said that Port Authority has raised $3 billion of the $10 billion needed to bring the project over the finish line. Cotton also hopes to ascertain a $1 billion Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loan from the federal government for the venture.

Massing illustration for new Bus Terminal released in August 2022 (Courtesy Foster + Partners)

Tom Wright, president and CEO of the Regional Plan Association (RPA), added: “RPA is thrilled to see the advancement of the Midtown Bus Terminal overhaul, having engaged with the Port Authority on potential alternatives for the project for many years. More than just transporting people, the bus terminal serves as an engine that can boost the economic vitality and competitiveness of the entire region, and we are pleased to see a vision for the project that will create a civic destination that also serves as an urban hub…. We look forward to advocating for this project’s completion for years to come.”

The new Foster + Partners-designed bus terminal will be constructed in phases. It’s slated to open in 2032.