A new station for New York

Have decided to reform Pennsylvania station and turn it into a benchmark for the new 21st century… Do you build it?

001 photo by Berenice Abbott, via NYPL

“What would do you, Carmen?”, thought Laura, a call has turned upside down her world, her always eventual world, because, if anything was clear for the protagonist of this story, is that all her environment is in constant motion, “the life is a river”, she used to think, especially when she looked engrossed the river Tormes (a tributary of the Duero) in her frequent visits to Salamanca, birthplace of her partner where had known while studying the career of technical architecture on the University.

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But if the life is a river, Laura is an expert sailor. Her innate capacities of adaptation to the environment, join an excellent training, by her mother, Carmen, who had lost her husband, having to deal single with her children, to part, obviously, to work to achieve the precious good of economic tranquility very young. Now, a company on the other side of the Atlantic had called her for climb aboard in one of the greatest adventures of her career: the reform of the Pennsylvania station, Penn Station as call it in New York.

The voice on the other side of the “line” had a strong Texan accent, that made her think in a joke, but not expressed doubts in this regard. Aware of the anomaly of the offer, the speaker gave to Laura clear reviews of his company, some names of contacts in common that certify his worth but, above all, spoke with the clarity and the speed of who doesn’t want to waste his time more than necessary. Ron, was his name, he explained that the most important station of the New York State needed an immediate reform.

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He spoke of as the Governor, Andrew Cuomo, had just announced on January 6, the ambitious plan that had been drawn up for the centennial station. Politely, he put her in the background. The Penn Station unites more than 46 cities in the United States and has more than 500 railway stations throughout the country. It was designed by the architects McKim, Mead and White, being inaugurated on September 8, 1910. However, the controversy came in 1963 when it was demolished a part for the construction of Madison Square Garden. Many believe that it was a great strategic mistake.

The project has been christened “Empire State Station”, and consists in the renovation of the station and the reform of the Farley post office, which is attached to the station via underground tunnels. The initial budget has been estimated at 3 billion dollars (2.78 billion euros). Of this amount, two billion are for works to run on the station, which may involve the modification or even the elimination of the Paramount Theater at Madison Square Garden and the opening of new entries on Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street as well as another entry on Eighth Avenue.

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The remaining 1 billion dollars will be invested in the reconstruction of James A. Farley post office, there will be installed a waiting room for the passengers of Amtrak, as well as shops and offices. According to Mr Andrew Cuomo, the enterprises may opt for one of the works or by two, but have only 90 days for the submission of its tenders. The famous station was built for a capacity of 200,000 people daily, encrypts that currently rising to 650,000 people, this fact and the necessary updating of the facilities require an early execution.

Ron took a break in the conversation, in that moment, Laura asked what exactly expected of her. “Her total surrender” he snapped laconic, “we need a person for link between the budget and the execution of the work, a person who analyze every detail, measurements, costs, but, above all, we need a calculation as real as possible.” Laura began to understand the why of her choice, not in vain, had excelled in works that had intervened by a very accurate cost analysis before the execution, allowing a higher profit for the businesses. So, speaking of 3,000 billion dollars, was clear that was needed all the possible assistance.

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The idea was as follows, Laura will be moved immediately to New York, she will direct a team of six people in charge (initially) for the comprehensive analysis of the work, its actual costs and possible deviations. Another team of economists and market analysts, will study the other parameters, the collaboration offered by Cuomo is 325 million dollars from Government sources, and the exploitation by the awarded company, new shops and Retail centers, although, of course, the negotiations can always modify its parameters.

“The enterprise of architecture which has been decisively involved in the project, SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)”, explains Ron, “tells us how the remodeling of James A. Farley post office will increase by 50% the space of the station, easing the congestion in the platform”. The new Moynihan Train Hall (so called) will feature a spectacular atrium filled with light, where before was the classification of post office, a large arched steel beams will allow maximum use of the site. The designers also highlight the merger between the old building and the new reforms, which give the building a truly unique air.

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The year planned for the completion of the works is 2018 and its total area of performance will be 45.150,88 square meters, Laura calculated quickly, the action implied a cost of 66.443,89 dollars per square metre (60.873,75 euros), she would have to spin very fine. The success of the technical architect was the thoroughness with which analyzed the different headings, knew very well that the prices of materials, especially those of quality, not ranged too, so for the cost reduction was essential to good planning of the work and its execution in period. And for that she should know inside out the businesses and its ways of working.

Other features of the project will be the enlargement of the corridors, the improvement in the connectivity levels, new signals more efficient, a Wi-Fi service, and modernized information screens. Aware of the huge influx of passengers, is noteworthy that, in the reform of the post office, will include 30 escalators and more lifts. All to transform Penn Station into the new benchmark for the 21st century, with more entrances and exits, with more shops and offices and, of course, with a greater energy efficiency.

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“What happens tomorrow depends on what we do today,” Laura read that Cuomo had told. “We are going to be as bold and ambitious as our ancestors before us”. By the conversation and the questions that the technique raised, Ron realized that was a valuable asset, so he launched his offer, a substantial and generous sum for three months until the submission of the offer, if the company get the works, they would renegotiate her intervention and would have to stay until the completion of the work.

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Laura shuffled quickly the options, she knew perfectly that her partner would support her wholeheartedly, but was clear that, she would have the last word. She thought again in Carmen, her mother was a great woman who had loaded in another era with less pleasant jobs, in less promising circumstances, and had never lost the smile or the fortitude, Would she have gone to work to New York?“, she could not prevent a smile when guess the answer. “Ron, go preparing my contract, my new river will be the Hudson” she told to her interlocutor happy.

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