Art & Culture

New York Times Architecture Critic Champions HOK’s Transformative Redesign Proposal for Manhattan’s Dismal Penn Station

A Notorious Eyesore Ripe for Change

In a glowing review, Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for the New York Times, wholeheartedly endorsed architecture firm HOK’s dramatic redesign concept for Penn Station. Kimmelman decried the current station as a “ridiculous eyesore,” deeming the iconic firm’s vision a once-in-a-generation chance to transform the massive transit hub into a grand civic space befitting its central place in Manhattan.

HOK’s $7 billion proposal would nearly triple the size of the frequently maligned station, opening up congested concourses and flooding them with natural light. The reimagined station would create a bright, airy counterpoint to today’s dim, low-ceilinged basement warren.

A Sweeping Civic Space for the City

Beyond improving passenger flows and aesthetics, HOK’s concept aims to create a monumental civic space akin to Grand Central’s concourse. It would restore elements of the original Penn Station’s striking Beaux-Arts beauty before it was demolished in the 1960s.

Kimmelman praised HOK’s sensitivity to context in cladding the new station with stone and glass while preserving the adjacent Farley Post Office building as a grand entranceway. He argued only a radical transformation of this scale could uplift a space so central to Manhattan’s identity.

A Rallying Cry to Avoid Past Mistakes

In advocating for the redesign, Kimmelman also issued a warning not to repeat the mistake of the original Penn Station’s thoughtless demolition. By rebuilding it as a luminous public space that connects the city, Kimmelman stressed New York can course-correct from past blunders and revive Penn Station as a world-class civic heart.

With a stirring mix of exhortation and aspiration, Kimmelman’s column makes an impassioned case that executing HOK’s vision would confer upon New York aredesigned transit hub truly befitting the city’s peerless spirit.

A Once-in-a-Generation Chance to Remake an Urban Linchpin

For a space so central to New York’s transport and identity, Penn Station’s dismal current state has persisted too long, Kimmelman argued. Transforming it into an inviting civic crossroads represents a long-overdue architectural leap. Kimmelman contends seizing this rare opportunity would recast Penn Station as the grand Manhattan gateway it always should have been.