Sky Park: Design Idea Floats City Block Over Penn Station

sky park penn station

Out of four recent proposals for a radical overhaul of Penn Station in New York City, this concept by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP is far and away the most dramatic – and arguably the most inspiring as well.

sky park new york

Drawing on the success of The High Line, an elevated park in the same city, this project solution from SOM proposes lifting city life to new heights and integrating a new version of Madison Square Garden, boldly suspended in midair.

sky park section slice

Below, the main station itself sits as a dome over the underground transit hub. Meanwhile, the mega-block is anchored by towers at its four corners, with offices occupying the lower floors and residential stories above.

sky park from below

On the one hand, this multi-layered result consolidates central activities around a newly-refocused core. On the other, it opens up shared green park space on a series of levels, blending intentionality with optionality.

sky park som diagrams

While conceptually simple, the design is … challenging from an engineering standpoint, to put it mildly, and more idealistic than realistic at this point. Hanging so much structure over such a distance stretches the limits of the imagination, but that practical weakness is also the visionary strength of the proposal, for better and worse.