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Features

Rendering credit: DBOX for Vornado Realty Trust / Foster + Partners Rendering credit: DBOX for Vornado Realty Trust / Foster + Partners
With the deep downturn in the city's hospitality sector, it appears the loved and loathed Hotel Pennsylvania's days are numbered. Hulking over Seventh Avenue, across from Penn Station/Madison Square Garden, the hotel's long-time owner, Vornado Realty Trust, has been mulling redeveloping the property for two decades since first acquiring it in 1997. Now, after an array of shelved proposals that included plans to restore the 102-year-old structure, it appears the Steven Roth-led REIT has settled on a replacement plan that brings a soaring 1,270-foot office tower designed by the award-winning firm of Foster + Partners.
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Dubbed a questionable PENN 15, a fresh set of more refined images released in a Vornado portfolio booklet (h/t SkyscraperPage) shows detailed drawings and renderings of the high-tech, 2.8 million-square-foot tower-to-be. Innovations will include landscaped terraces every four floors and a side-core configuration that lends tenants more flexibility with their layouts.
Seemingly tired of Hudson Yards eating their lunch, Vornado will bring the tenant-magnetizing themes of gargantuan floor plates, and cathedral-like ceiling heights to the Penn Station area. While the supertall skyscraper (+300 meters) will only have 57 floors, its lofty 17'-19' floor-to-floor heights will stretch the tower higher than the Empire State Building's mooring mast and three feet taller than Hudson Yards' tallest building (backslaps Stephen Ross). Like One Vanderbilt, the podium appears sympathetic to the public realm, providing a glass-enclosed atrium, generous setbacks, and terraces topped by vegetation.
Penn Plaza Imagine coming out of Penn Station and seeing this. Happy to see the old Gimbel's skybridge intact.
PENN 15 is labeled Site 6 according to the state's Empire Station plan
The Governor's Empire Station master plan, for which Vornado will be largely involved, is proposed to usher in 20 million square feet of space to fund an expansion of Penn Station. Nine new commercial towers, including PENN 15 and the redevelopment of the Manhattan Mall behind are part of the new district. Advocacy groups have voiced concerns that not enough attention is being paid to street-level congestion and the public realm, especially given the large number of office workers the new towers will bring.
Now inching towards the dustbin of history, the 1,700-room Pennsylvania Hotel is said to be the largest in the world when opened in 1919 and was built to accommodate railroad passengers. Designed by McKim, Mead & White, the same firm behind the old Pennsylvania Station and the Farley Post Office (now partially Moynihan Train Hall), much of the hotel's fine classical details and sumptuous public spaces have been partitioned and painted over. Its 18th-floor ballroom and main restaurant Cafe Rouge hosted many of the country's leading bands and featured performers such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and the Glenn Miller Orchestra who immortalized the hotel's phone number, Pennsylvania 6-5000.
The doomed Hotel Pennsylvannia

↓ The PENN 15 site is located on Seventh Avenue between West 33rd and 32nd Street, a block-and-a-half west of the Empire State Building.

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↓ The area has been popular for tech tenants and, sadly, the street homeless


↓ According to the latest plans, the tower will rise 1,270 feet tall, three feet higher than the edgy 30 Hudson Yards

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↓ The building will have direct access to Penn Station and the subway

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↓ Recent NYC office towers have placed a higher priority on the health and well-being of tenants/employees.


↓ Livelier than the austere marble-clad lobbies of Sixth and Park Avenues

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↓ Time will tell how tall these terraced trees will be allowed to grow

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↓ It appears 56 Leonard (Jenga) and the Spiral had a baby...that has been strapped to a car seat


↓ Glazed exterior stair cores may persuade some tenants to forego the elevator

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↓ Suspiciously, no renderings were released of the uptown-facing elevation. The main side-core, which contains mechanical spaces, bathrooms, and elevators, is positioned along that facade.

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↓ There are expected to be more than 40 supertall buildings in NYC by 2035. The days of the Empire State Building being Midtown's dominant tower appear to be over.

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Additional Info About the Building