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The Next 100 Years in New York by WXY Architecture + Urban Design
November 28th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: WXY Architecture + Urban Design
WXY Architecture + Urban Design was one of three distinguished firms invited by New York City’s Municipal Arts Society to create a vision for the future of the public areas around Grand Central Terminal and the surrounding East Midtown district. With deep experience in civic projects, the firm has proposed opening up more public space to city dwellers and visitors for enjoyment and reflection. The plan would also create inviting thoroughfares devoted to pedestrians and bicycle riders.
“New zoning rules should trigger real transportation links to public space. One way is to harness the untapped potential of Grand Central’s edges\” says Claire Weisz, one of WXY’s founding principals. \”The plan for Midtown’s near future needs to make the Grand Central neighborhood a place people enjoy being in not just running through.”
Focusing efforts along 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, the plan by WXY Architecture + Urban Design restores pedestrian-friendly amenities to what had been an automobile-centric urban layout. The pedestrian/auto hybrid strategy includes making Vanderbilt Avenue a pedestrian-only walkway. The west side of the Park Avenue viaduct would become an elevated promenade featuring tall grass plantings and glass paving — a space for reflection hovering over the city bustle.
Combining walkable skylights with wide staircases and a multi-level approach, points of entry to the Grand Central area become unusual and gracious outdoor rooms that provide access and support to an expanded terminal city. Direct access to and links between the multiple subway and train lines — including the new East Side Access/LIRR lines — would be greatly expanded and improved.
Egress from the MetLife building’s base would become visually striking and yet relaxing to use, with escalators transporting travelers into a cleared podium park. Some years after completion, visitors exiting via these escalators will have the experience of being greeted first by the park’s grove of trees, a pleasant surprise in the Midtown East district. Surrounded by an active facade and a sky lobby above, the podium park presents an opportunity for a unique public event space.
WXY’s plan also includes a tapered obelisk-shaped tower west of Grand Central Terminal. The tower’s graceful, elongated pyramidal lines are broken at odd intervals by garden terraces that protrude like enormous window-box gardens, and feature seasonal plantings. The roof is likewise vegetated, reinforcing New York City’s renewed commitment to finding and creating green spaces for the health and enjoyment of its citizens.
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