A storefront at the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 43rd Street (across from Grand Central) may be a window into the future of the West Side Rail Yards. The MTA unveiled an exhibition of the five proposals to redevelop the rail yards on the Far West Side of Manhattan, and the public will get a chance to see the models every day (except Thanksgiving) through December 3. And what's more, the MTA wants the public's comments.


The proposals comes from five developers/developer-teams: Brookfield Properties; Durst & Vornado; Extell; Related, Goldman Sachs & News Corporation; and Tishman Speyer & Morgan Stanley. All have common themes: Glass skyscrapers for residential and commercial use, green space, green buildings, cultural areas, ways to integrate the High Line. Some offer major companies taking a stake in commercial buildings, others offer ways to move people (like an automated people mover) or preserve light.


MTA Executive Director and CEO Lee Sander repeatedly noted how the public would be involved in the process - the public can comment at the storefront and will be able to do so online in the next week or so. Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, who has spearheaded the Hudson Yards planning back when the city wanted to put a West Side Stadium there, was also on hand and chuckled when asked if Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who effectively killed the stadium plan, would have a say. Doctoroff said, "In the previous case, money was contributed to the project by the city and the state. In this case, money will be contributed from the project to the city and the state." Get the difference?

The bidders were not allowed to discuss financials - this was simply an opportunity for them to show off their visions - and hotshot designers and models. And the designs will certainly change, as they will be scrutinized not just by the MTA but by the city as well. Here's a brief rundown and some renderings of the proposed bids, based on information available:

Brookfield Properties


  • 12 million square feet of development
  • 15.4 acres of public space - High Line Park (2.6 acres on the High Line), West Chelsea Promenade (esplanade at the foot of the High Line, surrounded by stores, restaurants, galleries), Hudson Place (on the Eastern Rail Yard, a public plaza surrounded by 75% commercial development), Hudson Green (on the Western Rail Yard, surrounding by 51% residential development), and Hudson Hall (semi-enclosed commercial-civic plaza similar to the World Financial Center's Winter Garden)
  • 4 office buildings, with 6.3 million square feet
  • 8 residential buildings, 4.4 million square feel with 3,300 units
  • 3 hotel/residential buildings, 1.2 million square feet; 2,025 rooms
  • Two buildings would be connected by a skyway - that is a running track.
  • 2 cultural facilities
  • Construction would be between 2008 and 2022 (the platform would be built between 2009 and 2014)
  • Master plan designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Field Operations; buildings designed by SOM, Thomas Phifer & Partners, SHoP rchitects, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa SANAA, and Handel Architects


Durst Organization & Vornado


  • 12 acres of public space
  • Four office buildings, 5.4 million square feet, including a new Conde Nast headquarters
  • 6.4 million square feet of housing, 7,000 units (rental units offered at 80/20 formula plus setting aside "Word-Force Housing" for middle income families
  • Automated people mover (APM) that will "offer a roughly one-minute travel time to the West Side Yard" from Penn Station
  • Kunsthalle - cultural center for temporary exhibitions, community celebrations, way events
  • Designers include Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and FxFowle Architects





  • Total of 16 buildings, including one "triple tower" (three buildings whose tops are connected)
  • About 6 million square feet of commercial space, 5.5 million square feet of residential space, 285,000 square feet of cultural space
  • Public space would be 75% of the land - over 851,000 square feet
  • Columnless suspension structure construction over rail yards (all buildings are on "terra firma," most are on the southern side to avoid canyon effect and to maximize views; tallest building is in the northeast corner of the East Rail Yard)
  • Two cultural squares, including a Sol LeWitt Sculpture and Arts Park
  • Walkway over the West Side Highway to a floating pier
  • Designed by Steven Holl Architects
  • PDF of presentation



Related Properties, Goldman Sachs & News Corporation


  • 5.7 million square feet of commercial space, including 2 million square foot News Corporation headquarters
  • 5.3 million square feet of residential space, including 2,000 rental units (20% as permanent on-site affordable housing)
  • 1 million square foot Equinox fitness hotel
  • The tallest and densest buildings are on the eastern part of the property and decline in height and density closer to the waterfront
  • Open space - 9 acre waterfront park
  • News Corp.'s presence means all its Manhattan offices will be consolidated there, with a studio on the ground floor, and opportunity for NFL pre-game shows, movie screening, Myspace concert series, etc.
  • Full integration of the High Line
  • Designers include Kohn Pederson Fox, Robert A.M. Stern, and Arquitectonica



Tishman Speyer & Morgan Stanley

  • 13 million square feet in thirteen buildings
  • 10 million square feet of office space, including 3 million square foot Morgan Stanley headquarters
  • 13 acres of public space
  • 550,000 square feet of retail space
  • "Forum" - main plaza on the eastern section of the property, "serving as a new 'town square'"
  • 3,000 residential units; almost 300 permanently affordable apartments
  • Designed by architect Helmut Jahn and landscape architect Peter Walker