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From the ashes of New York’s legendary Hotel Pennsylvania comes a new, not-at-all-parody-worthy building named PENN15, appropriately shaped like…well, please enjoy these newly released renderings. 

PENN15 will rise next to the iconic Empire State Building. Renderings: Vornado Realty Trust

The 1,200 foot-tall, 56-story skyscraper developed by Vornado Realty Trust is set to be, er, erected after the demolition of the historic Hotel Pennsylvania is completed. The 2.7 million-square-foot tower will be the tallest in Vornado’s Penn District project, a $1.3 billion mega campus that has been met with fervent resistance from neighborhood preservationists but for now appears to be moving forward. 

Featuring a mix of ground-floor 7th Avenue retail, office space, and residential units, PENN15 will possess floor-to-ceiling glass windows, 6 tenant amenity floors with ceilings as tall as 27 feet, and 37 landscaped terraces with views of the neighborhood’s original phallic tower, the Empire State Building.

PENN15’s open floor plans, large corporate auditoriums, and communal outdoor spaces are designed to attract tech and financial service companies (a match made in heaven for this level of BDE???). While once-rumored tenant Facebook has since leased elsewhere, maybe Elon Musk will move in. 

PENN15 will be be constructed where the Hotel Pennsylvania is currently being demolished. Renderings: Vornado Realty Trust

In the spirit of fairness, we must acknowledge PENN15’s commitment to sustainability. Developers plan to install water-reducing rainwater collection and smart meter systems, use photovoltaic cells on the exterior to help power the building, integrate natural ventilation systems, and use low embodied carbon materials for its construction. They’re not total dicks!!

And as for the Hotel Pennsylvania? Despite petitions and protests at several planning meetings, the historic McKim, Mead, and White 2,200-room building completed in 1903 is currently in the process of being demolished. Also on the chopping block to make room for the futuristic Penn complex? Touro College’s Graduate School of Education (320 W31st St — corner of 8th Ave)  and St John the Baptist Church (213 W30th St bw 7/8th Ave). 

While a need for a new, improved Penn Station is widely agreed upon by city officials and residents alike, the sudden explosion of slick, multi-billion-dollar campuses is seen by neighborhood advocates as a manipulative play for developer cash rather than an improvement to Midtown’s largest transit hub. 

The Hotel Pennsylvania is currently being demolished to make way for PENN15. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Said a statement from representatives of Community Board 4: “It is time for a better Penn Station. New York City deserves a world class, intermodal transportation center. Our communities are eager to improve Penn Station and we want to do it right. Unfortunately, the plan introduced by the Empire State Development Corporation at the height of the pandemic has nothing to do with Penn Station or infrastructure. Rather, it is a real estate development packaged as a ‘transportation’ project.”

The entrance to PENN15 on 7th Avenue. Renderings: Vornado Realty Trust
The new PENN15 will come with green credentials. Infographics: Vornado Realty Trust
View from one of the midrise floors at PENN15. Renderings: Vornado Realty Trust
A cross-section of midtown showing the relative height of PENN15 to the Empire State Building and Hudson Yards. Infographics: Vornado Realty Trust
The Auditorium at PENN15. Renderings: Vornado Realty Trust
There is no shortage of big companies wanting to come to Midtown West. Infographics: Vornado Realty Trust
The penthouse at PENN15. Renderings: Vornado Realty Trust
Big tech brands have already committed to the area around Penn Station — billed at New York’s Silicon Valley. Infographics: Vornado Realty Trust
PENN15 will be a new landmark on the New York skyline. Renderings: Vornado Realty Trust

As the historic Beaux-Arts facade of the Hotel Pennsylvania crumbles, it’s clear that in this case, the developers have won out. And if your eyes need some time to adjust to seeing PENN15 plastered somewhere other than a middle school notebook, fear not — Vornado does not expect to complete the project until close to the end of the decade. 

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6 Comments

  1. Another tall building blocking the view to the Empire State Building, “designed to attract tech and financial service companies.” Ugh.

  2. Developers have decimated the West Side and especially Hell’s Kitchen. These un-rentable mega-monsters are not improvements–they’ve killed the beauty of NYC. How many old buildings with history and character will be razed to make way for this tasteless crap? I hope they lose billions, now that they’ve totally fucked up our city.

  3. I’ve never heard of any zoning laws that protect views of the Empire State Building within the midtown area but if none exists I think we needed one ASAP. Might there be any organizations fighting for this? I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction against any/all development and I embrace change but the Empire State Building is an exception. It’s so important to our identity and culture. There’s a reason a lot of us sometimes get a little emotional and choked up when we looking up at this majestic building, fully lit, on a clear evening. And not to forget what it symbolizes in times of national celebration, trauma, support, etc. just as we saw it lit blue and yellow for the people of Ukraine this week. It’s a beacon to be cherished and protected.

  4. Another piece of Beaux arts irreplaceable history Demolished for something that reminds me of those 3 drawer plastic storage units you might buy at Target only PENN15 is 3 of them piled atop oneanother with the drawers slightly pulled out! Really DISGUSTING!

  5. Ho-Hum. Another pre-fabricated, quickly built glass tower built by and for the mega rich. To add insult to injury it will block the Empire State Building. Would France allow the Eiffel Tower to be blocked by a bunch of ugly glass towers? Of course not and the Empire State Building is our Eiffel Tower. It is an iconic symbol of our city, state and country and should be protected from encroachment. I say no new buildings until all the vacant stores and buildings closed during the pandemic are filled. Geeeeezzz! KLBazur, Manhattan Plaza

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