Moynihan Train Hall brings art to Penn Station

Sunlight is not usually associated with the filthy basement atmosphere enveloping passengers passing through the Penn Station.

But natural light is pouring through the new Moynihan Train Hall Through its enormous 92-foot ceiling it lights up another surprise: permanent installations by some of the world’s most famous artists.

Kehinde WileyAnd the Stan Douglas And artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset We have key pieces prominently on display in the new $ 1.6 billion train hall scheduled to open on Friday, providing an expansion of Concourse space at Penn Station and serving customers of Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road. The hall he designed Architectural firm SOM, Also connected to subway lines, although they are a bit far.

The 255,000 square feet train hall is inside James A. Mail Building. Farley, A stately fine art structure designed by McKim Mead & White in 1912, two years after the original Pennsylvania station. (New Yorkers may know the Farley Building from rushing up its gigantic staircase to file income taxes before midnight in mid-April.)

The new hall is named after Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, who first submitted plans for the renovation in the early 1990s, but had been mired in delays for years. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the driving force behind the project, in 2016 reported a public-private partnership to develop the hall, including the Empire State Development, the Vornado Realty Trust, related companies, Skanska, and others.

Moynihan train hall is a kind of redemption for the ill-fated Penn Station, which was demolished in 1963 in An act considered very common As for the city’s historic buildings, it is said to have triggered the nascent national conservation movement.

The new hall fails to solve many of New York’s countless transportation problems – congestion on rails, the need for a new tunnel under the Hudson River, the blight of the current Penn Station, to name a few. But officials say it is a necessary step to complete other transportation projects, add more train capacity and alleviate congestion at the Penn station.

The train hall opens at a time when citizens are asked to refrain from unnecessary travel to limit the spread of the Coronavirus, and at a time when passenger train traffic is extremely low.

But the governor indicated that a major infrastructure project had been completed on time despite the outbreak of a pandemic, in addition to a project that would go beyond the Covid-19 era. Mr. Cuomo called the new room “Deep Hope.”

“He talks about the brighter days to come when we will be able to gather, pass each other and share the same fearless space,” said Mr. Cuomo. “It promises to renew and revive civic life in New York, and signals the opportunity to come.”

On a final tour of the train hall, masked workers were putting the finishing touches to blue curved seats in a walnut alcove seating in the ticketed waiting area. The glowy hall floors feel warm to the touch, and for now at least, they look clean. The majestic gables and vaulted skylights signify the elegant artifacts in the original lobby of a bin station. The hall offers free Wi-Fi and a lounge for breastfeeding mothers. The 12-foot-high clock with a typeface designed for road and railway signs serves as an hourly reminder at the demolished Bin Station. It is intended to be a meeting point, and hangs 25 feet above the ground.

Building a new hall It began in 2017 with painstaking restoration of the building’s 200,000-square-foot stone facade, 700 windows, copper roof, steel trusses and terra cotta cornices. Some of the 120,000 square feet of shopping, dining and retail spaces won’t be ready right away. The train hall will not occupy all the space in the building; The post office will still be running. Facebook is moving over as a major commercial tenant.

While the new hall pales in comparison to the grandeur of the main star-studded hall at Grand Central Station, it will be a more pleasant welcome to travelers than the Penn Station, which has been mocked as “La Guardia Train Stations.”

Adding works by famous artists adds a festive atmosphere and a sense of pride in the public sphere and the way Mr. Como places them priority at similar crossing points in Four stops along the Second Avenue subway line (Cut off from Chuck CloseAnd the Jin ShinAnd the Vic Muniz And the Sarah SzieNew Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport with fixtures from Mrs. Sze, Laura OwensAnd the Sabine Horning And Heine Pocket.

“There is something that can be said about a community gathered around an artist, about his or her vision, to say that this is something we collectively believe in,” he said. Mr. Wiley, Who was famous for it Portrait of former President Barack ObamaOutstanding, National Portrait Gallery. “New York needs this now.”

The space seems to be always intended to keep occupants looking, from the sprawling glass skylight to the two main fixtures in the roof at each entrance path – Mr. Wiley stained-glass panels of Break Dancers on 33rd Street and Elmgreen & Dragset’s “The Hive” for inverted models For the futuristic skyscrapers of 31st Street.

“It’s an opportunity for artists to expand on themselves and do something new and different,” said Nicholas Boom, Director and Lead Curator. Public Art FundWhich supervised the technical project.

The artists submitted their proposals in 2019, before any of them envisioned the spread of Covid-19 around the world, and then carried out their work from afar.

Here’s a first look at the artists and their installations.

Mr. Willie’s backlit triple-glass panel named “Go”, across the entrance roof of 33rd Street, depicts sneaker-laden dancers appearing to float over a blue sky.

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The artist, whose paintings often reimagine famous works with black themes, said he wanted to embrace the dearth of contemporary art on stained glass as well as “play with the language of wall paintings on the ceiling” by using his composition to celebrate black culture.

“A lot of what’s going on in the frescoes on the ceiling are people who express a kind of rectitude, religious devotion and ascension,” said Mr. Wiley, who owns a studio in New York but has spent most of the year. In his studio in Dakar, Senegal. “To me, movement and space made a lot more sense than thinking about the ways bodies rotate while dancing.”

A woman wears baggy yellow pants and a short blouse. The post is fitted in a denim jacket. Instead of angels and gods in classic frescoes, Mr. Wiley introduces Nike logos and pigeons mid-flight. Evokes the outstretched finger of a young woman in camouflage shorts.Adam’s creation By Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

“It’s the idea of ​​expressing ultimate joy – a dance break in the sky,” he said, noting that breakdance began in New York City.

Mr. Wiley toured the train hall and noted the decorative motifs and metalwork. The moldings are designed around the three panels to coordinate with the metal around the windows outside the building.

Mr. Wiley said he deviated from his usual “street casting” method, or choosing street strangers as models, because he was under time pressures to present the work, and instead turned to the subjects of previous paintings.

“The aesthetic of black culture is the aesthetic of survival, buoyancy, splendor and the ability to float in the midst of a lot,” Mr. Wiley said, adding that he hoped the work would make passengers stop and smile.

“I hope they get to know themselves,” he said. “I wanted to create something, at the intersection of trade and transportation in the capital of the world economy, as evidence of the possibility of lions.”

Giant Photographic Paintings of Mr. Douglas Al-Kind Which re-enacts historical moments of tension Connecting local histories to broader social movements, it acts as a backdrop along a wall over 80 feet long for a waiting area for ticketed passengers. The series “Half a Century of Pennsylvania Station” is a tribute to the original Penn Station, in which Mr. Douglas relied on archival research to recreate nine small but noteworthy moments that occurred there.

Mr Douglas, who represents Canada at the 2022 Venice Biennale, invited 400 people – 100 every day of the shooting – to an empty Vancouver hockey arena, where they were dressed in old and far-fetched costumes. He compiled many photos on digitally recreated interiors of the demolished station based on old floor plans and photos.

The paintings include depicting outlaws and The popular hero Celia Kony, Also known as “Bobbed Hair Bandit,” she met crowds in 1924 when she was returned to New York to face charges. Mr. Douglas also re-imagined Penn Station as a voice platform for director Vincent Minnelli [1945movie”TheHour” Judy Garland starring.

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One exhilarating picture resurrects a new New York moment: a spontaneous show by vaudeville artists inside the auditorium after being stranded by a major snowstorm with other travelers in 1914. It was led by Burt Williams, a black singer and comedian Who also created pioneering musical theater productions.

“This is complete imagination – we don’t know what it looks like,” said Mr. Douglas of his scene. “We discovered who was performing on the East Coast and merged them. We found acrobatic bands from the era and reference photos of costumes and their work.”

The pandemic threw a curve ball for Mr. Douglas.

Each model was hidden until the moment before the shutter clicked. Everyone was photographed individually, even for scenes from the large crowd, then pictures were placed on top of each other.

Mr Douglas said one person had lost consciousness, but to everyone’s relief, Covid-19 was not involved. He said, “She was wearing winter clothes inside on a July day.”

Michael Elmgren and Ingar Dragst, Berlin-based artists Work from Exploring the relationship between art, architecture and design, he created “The Hive”, a group of nine-foot-high skyscrapers hanging upside down like stalactites from the roof at the entrance to 31st Street.

Glossy white buildings, some replicas and some purely fairy versions are futuristic with their perfect edges and little lights. The artists explained that the pedestal with mirrors allows passengers to feel like they are projected into the cityscape and creates a kind of mirage for an imaginary city.

“This is an important aspect of it,” said Mr. Daragst. “People see themselves reflected in the base painting.” “We like that there is an interaction between the audience and the work itself.”

Mr. Daragst said the work was called “The Hive” to reflect how cities operate, with the richness of their diversity, because people accept certain rules of coexistence.

“It’s about a huge collaboration to make everyone alive,” he said.

The installation contains nearly 100 buildings, most of which are made of aluminum, and the artists hope to offer passengers a new experience every time they enter.

“Often people are in a hurry when they get to the train,” said Mr. Al-Majrine. “We thought about creating something that you can feel in one view, but if you want a full experience you can stop and search and discover new aspects of the artwork over and over again.”

The exhibition includes 72,000 LED lights; Six buildings can change colors.

The artists said shipping the work to New York from Germany, where it was manufactured, was nerve-wracking. Together, the buildings weigh more than 30,000 lbs. Mr. Daragst was the only artist of the four who were able to travel to New York to oversee the installation this month.

He said, “I saw it going up and coming together, and he was there for this magical moment for the lights to come.” “Me and my product manager, we shed a few tears.”

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