project name : Amtrak Tower
location : New York City
year of design: 2006
client: HOK/ Amtrak
architect: George Ranalli
associates: HOK, Robert Silman Structural Engineer
design team: Hollace Metzger, Hayden Marrero
Established by Congress in 1970, Amtrak is a nationwide, high speed, intercity, passenger-rail service traversing over 500 destinations; 46 in the United States, and three Canadian provinces. Nearly thirty million passengers a year travel on Amtrak commuter
In 2005, Amtrak commissioned a study to optimize an old power plant, located on Manhattan’s 31st Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. The building sits mid-block among a row of 19th Century loft structures. The project proposes the renovation of the existing building for use as Amtrak’s northeastern headquarters, and a 16-storey boutique hotel expansion.
The design provides a new central entrance area, with a café for occupants and visitors, below a contemporary bridge, connecting a newly designed lobby space to the preexisting building. Inside, the proposed renovation of the existing building provides Amtak, the busiest railroad in North America, with custom workspaces, state-of-the-art communication systems, and imaging technologies. The design transforms a soaring core space inside the old power plant, previously the coal hopper, into a dramatic triple-decker symposium facility, which includes a 30-seat auditorium, a large seminar and banquet room space, and a floor of quiet offices, ringed by a striking spiral passageway.
A small yard alongside the eastern end of the existing building offers a geometric fluke enough of a space for a 16-storey hotel tower. The exterior design for the hotel composes an active arrangement of horizontal casting stone and wood frame windows, and advantageous 1,800 square foot floor plates for ample natural sunlight and views. The tower design features two conical, copper-clad rooftop spaces for dining and gathering. Each sky pod is positioned to capture the dramatic vistas of the downtown Manhattan skyline.