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Penn Station May Get a ‘Halo’

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

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A new passenger experience has been proposed for New York City’s iconic Pennsylvania Station, but it’s not going to be in the traditional train cars rolling in and out of the station.

If one city developer’s plan comes to fruition, a 1,200-foot-tall thrill ride could be constructed directly above the city’s main rail station.

Halo rendering with gondolas
Photos: AE Superlab

Brooklyn development and design studio AE Superlab has proposed building a 1,200 foot tower and thrill ride overtop of New York City's Pennsylvania Station.

It’s also more than just a tourist attraction—commissioned by Brooklyn Capital Partners, the sky-high ride is meant to provide a stream of income to pay for renovations of and upgrades to the transportation landmark, Architectural Digest reported.

Building ‘The Halo’

In response to a request for proposals from the State of New York that asked development teams to reimagine Penn Station as a mixed-use destination, Brooklyn’s AE Superlab submitted its proposal for what it calls The Halo.

The Halo is described as a “diaphanous, gauzy superstructure” that will serve as a highly visible landmark for the station situated beneath it, the design studio said on its project page. Within the transparent superstructure sits a series of five illuminated rings, or halos, representing the city’s five boroughs.

The 1,200-foot-tall, 460-foot-diameter tower will require 17,000 tons of high-quality steel, according to the design team.

Entertainment and Information

For the ride, that structure will be equipped with 11 gondolas, running parallel vertically along the frame, which will descend at different speeds, including free fall at a rate of more than 100 mph, Gizmag reported.

Halo from above

The Halo would serve as a highly visible landmark for the station, while also generating income to fund maintenance and renovations of the city's landmark train station.

Each of the rides will be “tuned to a different degree of intensity to match the excitement level of a wide range of riders from thrill-seekers to sight-seers,” the designer added.

Taller than the Empire State Building, the ride will give passengers a view from almost three times the height of the London Eye, or free fall more than twice as far as the next tallest ride of its kind, making it the biggest and fastest in the world.

The transparent LED pixel mesh “skin” on the structure’s exterior will also enable the structure to serve as a highly visible informational display.

Live polling response, environmental advisories, feedback from Madison Square Garden events directly below and more will be communicated to the public through The Halo.

A Practical Proposal?

Although the location of the tower—either over the west end of the Penn Station/Garden block or over the back of the nearby Farley Post Office Building—is yet to be determined, the designer indicates the structure can be built in fewer than 20 months, as it will rely on existing foundations rather than building a new foundation.

Halo rendering, NYC skyline

The tower would be taller than the Empire State Building, according to the designer, and give passengers a view from almost three times the height of the London Eye.

With admission tickets expected to cost $35, The Halo is expected to raise $1 billion for upkeep to Penn Station, according to the developer’s site, without having to raise taxes or apply for government subsidy. Reports in The Telegraph indicate ticket sales could generate between $25 million and $38 million each year for the station.

If approved, AE Superlab will provide the architectural design, structural engineering will come from Arup and ride engineering from S&S Worldwide.

However, John Gerber, chairman of Brooklyn Capital Partners, admitted that while the ride is feasible in terms of engineering, government agencies and the locals could prove resistant to the “unusual idea.”

That thought was echoed by Jonathan Gouveia, senior director of planning and infrastructure for the Municipal Art Society, an urban planning advocacy group, who suggested that “midtown Manhattan is not designed for amusement park rides,” according to The Telegraph.


Tagged categories: Amusement Complexes; Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Funding; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Renovation; Transportation

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