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Design Proposals For New Penn Station Submitted By 4 Firms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Municipal Art Society asked four architectural firms to submit proposals for a new Penn Station and those designs were unveiled on Wednesday.

The four firms took very different approaches, but each would make the new Penn Station more than just a station stop -- variously proposing a spa, a theater, promenades, parks, apartments, and office spaces to go with it.

"They are ideas that are really about the city, about returning the public realm to the public, about creating a station that's going to compete with other great stations of the world," Municipal Art Society President Vin Cipolla told WCBS 880's Rich Lamb.

Four Firms Submit Design Proposals For New Penn Station

The designs were submitted by Diller Scofidio & Renfro; SHoP Architects; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture.

All of the proposals contain lots of green space. H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, for example, pushes Penn West closer to the water. Sleek new housing towers overlook the station in the design from Skidmore, Ownings and Merrill. Diller Scofidio and Renfro portray a Penn station that is cavernous, multilevel and modern, CBS 2's Dave Carlin reported.

"This is about a mid-21st century view of what a train station is," Cipolla said. "Personally, I think it should be as grand as the one that was torn down. But it's going to be different. It's going to be a statement of today's time, of this century. But light and air in use, human scale..."

"Make it a place that people don't flee from but people want to come to," said Chris Sharples of SHoP Architects.

Cipolla said the present Penn Station was designed to handle 200,000 passengers a day, but 650,000 now use it daily.

Of the current station, he said, "It's a basement. It's a station in a basement. It needs to break out and not be in the basement anymore."

The future of a new Penn Station is still undecided, but will be linked to the also undecided future of Madison Square Garden.

The Penn Station transformations face many hurdles getting support from the Garden, the public, and City Council approval. It appears the Garden is definitely not on board, Carlin reported, saying in a statement: "It's curious to see that there are so many ideas on how to tear down a privately owned building that is a thriving New York icon, supports thousands of jobs and is currently completing a $1 billion transformation."

The Dolan family, which owns MSG, is hoping others remain undazzled by what they call "pie-in-the-sky drawings" with "no viable plans or funding," Carlin reported.

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