The full details behind SOM’s vision to revamp Grand Central Station and its surroundings were released yesterday at the Municipal Art Society’s event, ‘The Next 100’. More importantly, renderings of the project were also unveiled. It must be stressed that the project is only a vision, and the re-zoning of Midtown East hasn’t even occurred yet.
The Grand Central Halo at the top of the towers: Image from SOM
Still, what has been seen is simply stunning. Whether you think the ‘observation halo’ is a gimmick or not, the structure of the deck is simply amazing and would offer unparalleled views of the city. The renderings show how the halo moves up and down throughout the day, as well. Nothing like it exists on Earth!
The Halo’s connection to the skyscrapers: Image from SOM
The actual office towers in the renderings are less inspiring than the halo, rising roughly 1,200 feet. That’s certainly large, but they wouldn’t even rank in New York’s top five towers come 2020. The western tower’s design appears unoriginal as well, and is definitely reminiscent of the Lord Foster-designed Hermitage Plaza towers, in Paris.
It would be nice if the buildings built as part of the Midtown re-zoning are just as revolutionary and ambitious as SOM’s observation halo. The halo is unlike anything else on Earth, and should serve as a model of the kind of ideas needed to see Midtown East maintain its status as New York’s premiere business district. All new projects in Midtown East should be exercises in exceptionalism once the re-zoning is finalized.