One Vanderbilt Avenue: TOD For GCT

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

The $3.3 billion One Vanderbilt Avenue skyscraper, at 1,401 feet New York City’s second-tallest office tower after One World Trade Center, is home to a $220 million TOD (transit-oriented development) project benefiting adjacent Grand Central Terminal and the forthcoming MTA Long Island Rail Road East Side Access project. Designed by Stantec, the TOD project is a P3 (public-private partnership) of the New York MTA and developer SL Green Realty designed to improve rail transit access and use for some 750,000 (pre-pandemic) daily Metro-North commuter rail and NYC Transit subway riders, as well as future LIRR riders.

The transit improvements tied to the TOD opened to the public on Dec. 10, 2020. They include:

  • A 14,000-square-foot pedestrian plaza between GCT and One Vanderbilt.
  • The 4,000-square-foot public 43rd Street Transit Hall inside One Vanderbilt.
  • A series of below-grade ADA accessible concourses for enhanced connections to Metro-North, the NYCT shuttle (S) to Times Square, the Lexington Avenue (4-5-6) Line and No. 7; and future access to LIRR East Side Access, scheduled for completion in 2022 and expected to bring up to 160,000 additional commuters to the complex.
  • Addition of two street-level entrances to NYCT’s Lexington Avenue (4-5-6) and S lines.
  • Reopening of the long-shuttered passageway between Grand Central and the Socony-Mobil Building.

Inside One Vanderbilt, the 43rd Street Transit Hall and its series of below-grade ADA-accessible concourses and corridors feature “high-end finishes of stone, tile, glass and metals that echo the distinctive interiors of Grand Central Terminal and its clearly organized, airy open spaces,” Stantec noted. “The re-opened passageway between Grand Central and the Socony-Mobil Building at 150 E. 42nd Street adds two street-level subway entrances and a new entrance to the 42nd Street subway station on the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue. Circulation space on the subway platforms and mezzanine has been increased by 37%, providing commuters more room to socially distance and allowing for increased capacity once transit use rebounds to pre-pandemic levels. Enhanced finishes, additional turnstiles and gates, new stairways, escalators, and an ADA-accessible elevator have been added to ease congestion and improve transfers and the overall transit experience in the third-busiest station in the NYCT subway system.

Stantec’s scope of work included preparation of all transit-related designs (including those for meeting ADA compliance), coordination of approvals among multiple MTA agencies, coordination with city code enforcement on fire and life safety measures, and collaboration with stakeholders to ensure full integration of One Vanderbilt, Grand Central Terminal, the 42nd Street subway station and the Grand Hyatt New York Hotel.

“The completion of One Vanderbilt and the corresponding transit improvements is a testament to the spirit of New York—one that never backs down when faced with challenge,” said Stéphane Lefebvre, Stantec Senior Associate and project lead. “Bringing this project to life required intense design coordination and complex approvals from multiple government and transit agencies. We are immensely proud of our work, especially knowing that it will raise the collective spirit of New Yorkers and deliver a better transit experience to the scores of commuters that pass through the 42nd Street corridor every day.”

Stantec, which provides professional consulting services in all areas of design and engineering, said it offered “specialized expertise in assisting private sector clients navigate public and MTA review processes for integrated transit design that satisfies all city requirements and community expectations.” The company noted that it has performed work at nearly all of the subway system’s stations and has designed transit entrances, as well as many other infrastructure elements, “for an extensive array of complex development projects, including Times Square Tower, Eleven Times Square, Two Court Square, Moynihan Train Hall, Barclays Center, One Bryant Park, and now One Vanderbilt. Our work in TOD has created compact, walkable and healthier communities that offer value and a greater quality of life for residents. Stantec’s TOD work has had an impact on New York City through the redevelopment of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, as well as numerous projects around the world.”

For more on transit-oriented development from Stantec, see:

A Global Hub Turns to TOD

Transit-Oriented Development, Philadelphia Style

Transit Oriented Development – Chicago

P3s Key for TOD

Innovation From a ‘P2’ System

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