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Moynihan Train Hall brings art to Pennsylvania Station

Normally, sunlight has nothing to do with the dirty basement atmosphere that envelopes commuters passing by Penn Station.

But natural light overflows from the new Moynihan train hall through the huge 92-foot-tall skylight and sends out another surprise: permanent installations by some of the world’s most famous artists.

Kehinde Wiley, Stan Douglas and the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset significantly showcased important works in the new $1.6 billion train hall that will open on Friday, which will expand the lobby space of Penn Station and contribute to the development of Amtrak and Long Island Railway. Customers provide services. The hall designed by the construction company SOM is also connected to the subway line, although there is a certain distance between them.

This 255,000-square-foot train hall is located in the James A. Farley Post Building, a magnificent Beaux-Arts building designed by McKim Mead & White in 1912 two years after the original Pennsylvania Station. (New Yorkers may know that the Farley Building rushed up a huge staircase from before midnight in mid-April to file income taxes.)

The new hall is named after Senator Daniel P. Moynihan, who first proposed a renovation plan in the early 1990s but got stuck in a quagmire due to delays. The promoter of the project, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo (Andrew M. Cuomo) announced in 2016 the establishment of a public-private partnership in the lobby, including the Empire State Development and Vornado Realty Trust. , Related companies, Skanska, etc.

The Moynihan train hall can be used to redeem the doomed Penn station. The station was demolished in 1963. For the historical buildings of the city at that time, this is simply outrageous. It is said to be a new development. The beginning of the national protection movement.

The new lobby cannot solve many of New York’s traffic problems, including traffic congestion, the need to build a new tunnel under the Hudson River, the withering of the existing Pennsylvania Station, and so on. But officials say this is a necessary step to complete other transportation projects, increase train capacity and reduce congestion at Penn Station.

The train hall is open at times when someone is asked to avoid unnecessary travel to limit the spread of the coronavirus and when commuter train traffic is extremely low.

But the governor pointed out that despite the pandemic, a large infrastructure project could still be delivered on time, and that the project will surpass the Covid-19 era. Mr. Cuomo called the new hall “hopeful”.

Mr. Cuomo said: “This illustrates a good day when we can get together, pass each other and share the same space without fear.” “It guarantees the renewal and rebirth of the lives of New Yorkers, and points out future opportunities.”

The completion of the project (intent to welcome commuters and the rest of the world to the station in New York) was a bright spot in New York City’s dark year. In New York City, the death toll of the global pandemic that broke out in the spring has been rising and continues . As the virus hit the local economy hard, many beloved restaurants and shops closed one after another.

During a recent visit to the train hall, masked workers were putting the finishing touches on the blue curved benches in the walnut wall of the ticket waiting area. The radiant floor of the lobby feels warm to the touch and, at least so far, is clean. The majestic trusses and arched skylights pay tribute to the elegant window decorations of the original lobby of Pennzhou Station. Free Wi-Fi is available in the lobby and there is also a lounge for breastfeeding mothers. A 12-foot-tall clock with a font designed for road and rail signage to remind the state of Pennsylvania of the dismantled clock. The purpose is to serve as a meeting point, and it hangs 25 feet above the floor.

The construction of the new hall began in 2017, when it was a meticulous restoration of the 200,000-square-foot stone curtain wall, 700 windows, copper roof, steel truss and terracotta cornice of this landmark building. Some of the 120,000 square feet of shopping, dining and retail space will not be ready immediately. The train hall does not take up all the space in the building. The post office will continue to operate. Facebook is becoming a major commercial tenant.

Although the new lobby looks paler than the starry ceiling lobby of the Central Station, it welcomes commuters more pleasantly than the commuter station (known as the “LaGuardia of the train station”). “

The works of well-known artists add to the atmosphere of celebration, the pride of the public domain, and Mr. Cuomo’s priority method for determining similar border crossings at four stations along the Second Avenue subway line (Chuck Close, Jean Shin), Victoria Vik Muniz and Sarah Sze, and the new terminal B at La Guardia Airport, installed Ms. Sze, Laura Owen (Laura Owens), Sabine Hornig (Sabine Hornig) and Jeppe Hein (Jeppe Hein).

Mr. Willy said: “For a society that gathers around the artist and his or her vision, this is what we collectively believe in.” He is famous for his portrait of former President Barack Obama. The name is up in the air. National Portrait Gallery. “New York needs this now.”

From the expansive glass skylights to the two main ceiling installations at each entrance, the space always seems to keep commuters looking up — Mr. Wiley’s stained glass paintings of breakdance performers at 33rd Street and Elmgreen & Dragset’s “Hive” (cluster ) Upside down model futuristic skyscraper on 31st Street.

Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund, which is in charge of art projects, said: “This is an opportunity for artists to stretch themselves and do new things.”

These artists submitted their proposals in 2019, and then any one of them envisioned the spread of Covid-19 around the world and then executed their works from a distance.

This is the first glance of the artists and their installations.

Mr. Willie’s backlit hand-painted stained glass triptych “Go” on the ceiling of the 33rd Street entrance depicts break dancers wearing sneakers who seem to float in the blue sky.

The painter’s paintings often reimagine famous works related to black subjects. He said that he hopes to use installations to celebrate black culture, embrace the rarity of contemporary art on stained glass, and “play with the language of ceiling murals.”

Mr. Willy said: “Many things that happen on the ceiling murals are people expressing an impetuous, pious and noble attitude.” Mr. Willy has a studio in New York, but spends most of the year in Senegal. Spent in a studio in Dakar. “For me, movement and space make me think more meaningfully about the way my body rotates in breakdancing.”

A woman is wearing loose yellow pants and a cropped top. The other is wearing a denim jacket. Mr. Willie provided Nike logos and pigeons during the mid-flight instead of angels and gods in classical murals. The outstretched fingers of a young woman in camouflage shorts are reminiscent of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

He said: “This is the idea of ​​expressing absolute joy-break dancing in the sky,” he pointed out that break dancing started in New York City.

Mr. Willie visited the train hall and noticed the decorative decorations and metalwork. The line design around the three panels is coordinated with the metal around the windows outside the building.

Mr. Willie said that he deviated from the usual “street casting” method, or picked strangers from the street as models, because he was forced to take time to transport the work and turned to the subject of the previous painting.

Wiley said: “The aesthetics of black culture is the aesthetics of survival, buoyancy and salience, and the ability to float in so many environments,” he added, adding that he hopes this work will make commuters stop and smile.

He said: “I want them to recognize themselves.” “I want to create something at the intersection of trade, commerce, and transportation in the economic capital of the world, which proves the existence of Black’s possibility.”

Mr. Douglas (Canadian)’s giant photographic board reproduces tense historical moments, linking local history with broader social movements, and runs along the 80-foot-long wall of the waiting area for passengers waiting to purchase tickets as a backdrop. The series “Half a Century of Paine Station” is a tribute to the original Paine Station. Mr. Douglas used archival research to recreate nine small but noteworthy moments that occurred there.

Mr. Douglas, representing Canada at the Venice Biennale in 2022, invited 400 people (100 shots a day) to an empty hockey arena in Vancouver, where they were dressed in ancient costumes and separated. Based on old floor plans and photos, he decorated many images in the digitally reconstructed interior of the demolished station.

The panel contains descriptions of the disciple and folk hero Celia Cooney. Celia Cooney also encountered the crowd when she returned to New York in 1924 to face the charges. Mr. Douglas also redesigned Pennsylvania Station as the stage for the film “Clock” starring Judy Garland in 1945 by director Vincente Minnelli.

A joyous image recreates a moment in New York: in 1914, after a heavy snowstorm caused juggling performers and other visitors to stay, the jugglers performed spontaneously in the hall. The song is led by black singer and comedian Bert Williams, who also created a pioneering theater production of musicals.

Douglas said of the scene he created: “This is a complete fantasy. We don’t know what it looks like.” “We found out who performed in the eastern coastal area and merged them. We found that era. Acrobatic troupe and provided reference images for costumes and their behavior.”

The pandemic put Mr. Douglas in trouble.

Each model was covered until the shutter clicked. Everyone is photographed individually, and the images are superimposed on each other even in crowded scenes.

Mr. Douglas said that one person did pass out, but to everyone’s relief, Covid-19 was not involved. He said: “She wore winter clothes on one day in July.”

Michael Elmgreen (Michael Elmgreen) and Berlin-based artist Ingar Dragset (Ingar Dragset) are committed to exploring the relationship between art, architecture and design. They created the “beehive”, which is a group The 9-foot tall skyscraper model hangs upside down like a stalactite on the ceiling at the entrance of 31st Street.

The polished white buildings, some replicas and some purely fictional works, with their perfect edges and faint lighting look full of futuristic sense. The artist explained that the mirrored base allows commuters to feel projected into the urban landscape, and creates a fictional city’s sea city rage building.

Dragit said: “This is an important aspect, people do see themselves reflected on the floor.” “We like the interaction between the audience and the work itself.”

Mr. Dragicet said that this work is called “Hive” to reflect the diversity of the city, because people accept certain coexistence rules and how they work.

He said: “This is a huge cooperation for everyone to survive.”

The installation contains nearly 100 buildings, most of which are made of aluminum. The artist hopes that every time they enter, they will give commuters a new experience.

Elmgreen said: “People are often anxious when they get on the train.” “We thought about making something that you can feel in a single glance, but if you want a comprehensive experience, you can stop and look it up again and again. Discover new aspects of artwork over and over again.”

Exhibits include 72,000 LED lights; six buildings can change colors.

These artists said that the process of transporting these works from the place of manufacture from Germany to New York was puzzling. The total weight of these buildings exceeds 30,000 pounds. Mr. Dragit is the only artist among the four who can go to New York to oversee this month’s installation.

He said: “I saw it come and come together, there at that magical light moment.” “Me and my product manager, we both shed a little bit of tears.”

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