Exterior view of space with black and white digital content visible in between pillars

Unrealized Project

Recasting NYC’s Busiest District for Vornado


Vornado Realty Trust


Vornado Realty Group is the primary developer working to redevelop Manhattan’s Penn District through a series of complex, new building projects that merge transportation, workplace, retail, and entertainment. Until recently, the neighborhood has struggled to make substantive changes to return it to the glory of the early 20th century, when the original station anchored the district.


Via a methodical strategic process, reposition the district to reclaim its potential prowess in the minds of tenants, investors and public/private partners to incentivize enduring financial commitment. Then, design a commercial real estate sales gallery that manifests the district’s value proposition using engaging sensorial experiences that tap into both the heritage and the future and provide a renewed sense of place in parallel to multi-phase construction.
People in double height space with black and white digital tickers wrapping around
Exterior night view, with tickers illuminated through windows
Photograph of old train station clock, and digital clock
For reference only, credit: Bettman/Corbis, “Penn Station in New York”, 1924; LEFF Amsterdam, Hazy 35 Wall Clock

Connecting Penn’s Renaissance with Its Potential Future

Combining historical motifs with today’s latest technology and innovation, our team sought to position the district through the lens of a “Digital Renaissance.” Adapting historical ideas, we re-contextualized familiar objects and scenes with technology to explore a narrative that recasts the future of the district.
Photograph of train station clacking board
For reference only, credit: Peter Miller, “Arrivals and Departures”, 2015
Photograph of a statue of a woman figure
For reference only, credit: Adolph Alexander Weinman, “Night, Clock Figure from Pennsylvania Station, 31st to 33rd Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues, NYC”, ca. 1910
Diagram of people standing at front desk with digital ticker overhead.
People standing in front of a series of glass vitrines with different train station artifacts
Graphic of archway, staircase and blue gradient on gray background

Understanding Our Audience

As part of the strategic phase of the project, our team conducted a variety of interviews with key stakeholders both at Vornado as well as our collective network of real estate experts to understand what the potential of the Penn District means. Having established the need for a massive leap forward, we defined how the concept of the Digital Renaissance could influence the design of a compelling sales gallery by connecting old and new. We began simply, harnessing a few simple geometric forms germane to Penn’s history–the arch, the step and signage rectangles–and catapulted them into the future.
Black and white photograph of old Penn Station
For reference only, credit: Penn Station, Waiting Hall Facing 33rd Street Entrance, 1910, photograph, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Render of a series of scrim archways, illuminated by pink light with three-dimensional map in background
Graphic of black and white tickers, displaying the time 12:16
Render of black and white tickers, arranged overhead in cubes, showing abstract pattern.
Motion of black and white tickers moving across graphics diagonally
Motion of black and white tickers moving across graphics diagonally
Axonometric of a series of scrim archways with map on ground.
Render of pink scrim archways with digital cutaways to views of NYC
Animation of person moving through scrim archways, illuminating as he passes through.
Render of people standing in dark space, with single archway scrim illuminated, with map in background.
People standing in front of scrim archway, with blue gradient, with three dimensional map in background.
Animation moving through pink gradient, showing different train lines along the way
People standing in double height space with bleachers along the edges, and three dimensional map in background
Close view of people standing in front of three dimensional map
Axonometric of people standing at long table in library space
Two scrim archways, with people standing at long rectangular table
Two women standing at digital table, with architectural models in background
Logo that says "Penn" made up of architectural elements
People standing around digital table, with architectural models in the background
Content at appears on digital table, showing the Penn District from overhead
Content from digital table, showing Farley building interior photographs