AE Superlab.
A Collaborative Cross-Disciplinary Design Studio
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Halo NYC

PROJECT YEAR: 2016
TEAM:

Architectural Design: AE Superlab.
Structural Engineering:  Arup

CLIENT: Brooklyn Capital Partners

A Kinetic Monument for Public Use and Enjoyment. 

AE Superlab was commissioned to develop a bold and unique design concept in response to the Empire Station RFP issued jointly by the State of New York and it’s partners. This proposal offers to build The Halo: an extremely transparent, lightweight and iconic structure that will serve as a new beacon and landmark along the city’s skylight, celebrating and demarking the location of the station below at street level, bringing enjoyment to millions of visitors, and generating potentially over $1 billion of value for the public sector through private-sector ticket sales.

The Halo will be an invigorating and exciting addition to the New York skyline. It’s diaphanous, gauzy superstructure, will stand at almost 1200 feet (360m) of height and 460 feet (140m) of diameter and will be made of 17,000 tons of high quality steel. It will be equipped with 11 parallel tower rides each tuned to a different degree of intensity to match the excitement level of a wide range of riders from thrill-seekers to sight-seers. 
It will be a uniquely thrilling journey regardless of the choice. Riders can take in vistas at almost three times the height of the London eye, or free fall more than twice as far as the next tallest ride of its kind. New York’s tower ride will be the biggest and fastest in the world.

It will also serve as the cities largest and most visible interactive info display, programmed to display an ever changing array of city-relevant information driven by the data-sets made available through NYC’s open data initiatives as well as direct interaction with New Yorkers via mobile and web apps and real-time information driven by such events as environmental data and sports results from the games taking place in MSG Arena directly below.

The Halo is a project that is uniquely suited to and tailored for its location in midtown Manhattan. The importance of it’s role as the revenue engine for the renovation and upkeep of the beleaguered Penn station is matched by the impact it will have on the city’s skyline as a smart and optimistic 21st century beacon of aspirational architecture. An entirely thrilling way to experience and interact with New York City.

 
 

An Interactive Beacon For The City

The Halo will serve as the cities largest and most visible interactive info display. It’s surface will display a wide range of information via any combination of its multi-colored rings (each representing one of New York City’s five boroughs) and it’s transparent LED pixel screen “skin”.
The “Info Themes” will change frequently and viewers will be able to interact with the display via web and mobile applications. Examples of the interactive nature of the displays include:

  • Live polling on city relevant issues. “Are you satisfied with access to public transportation in your neighborhood?)
  • Environmental advisories. Eg. coastal water quality after heavy rainfall.
  • Live feedback from sporting events at MSG. Eg. transforming the entire structure into a city-sized decibel meter that silently glows brighter along with the loudness of  the cheering fans inside the arena below.
  • Visualizing relevant and interesting data culled from the cities vast supply of information available via the NYC Open Data program.
 

Intelligent. Adaptable. Innovative.

The Halo may be built over the back of the Farley building, or over the west end of the Penn Station/MSG block, to best fit the public Project Sponsors’ goals.  The Halo project  is designed to work in parallel with any underground plan at the station and can be integrated and customized to the winning RFP and/or RFEI proposal.

The structure can be completed in less than twenty (20) months after receipt of approvals, and the base is integrated with the redevelopment plan chosen through the RFP/RFEI process for the balance of the Empire Station. That is possible because  new foundations would not need to be built . The design would utilize unused capacity in existing foundations.

 

The old Penn Station was a rectangular building with massive granite columns all around its perimeter. Madison Square Garden is a circular building. When the Garden was built, the old perimeter columns were dumped in the meadowlands. But the foundations of the columns were left untouched. When their capacity is brought together in a single ring beam around the Garden, they are strong enough to hold up The Halo.

Farley Annex offers similar idle structural capacity to hold such a light structure and, depending on the chosen plan to redevelop the Farley Building, additional structural offsets could be possible.

 

 

Reaching new heights above. Improving the commuter experience below.

 

The Halo comes in response to the State of New York's call to re-imagine Penn Station as a mixed use destination that will “captivate the world’s interest and provide economic development.” This is New York’s high-tech version of the Eiffel Tower: a thrill ride taller than the Empire State Building, and an unforgettable icon on the skyline.

New York Citywill have 60 million tourists next year. The tickets they buy on the Halo will contribute money needed to pay for a new Penn Station below without raising taxes or waiting for a government subsidy.

The Halo will provide $1 Billion to make Penn Station safer and a better gateway. 

  • It will compliment and work in tandem with any underground plan
  • It will use existing structural capacity – no need for work in the train shed
  • Can be sited on top of Farley or Penn
  • Will contribute to the iconic NYC skyline – Visitors will never again need  to ask: “where’s Penn Station”

The design is as focused on improving the commuter experience for the everyday users of Penn station as it is on providing a unique experience to visitors to the top of the Halo. A new mezzanine level coupled with careful pedestrian and vehicular planning at street level will provide improved access to the tracks while keeping the flow of visitors to the Halo elevated and away from the bustle of rush hour commuters.

 

A Uniquely Thrilling New York Experience.

 

Quin Checketts, ride engineer and tower ride enthusiast, describes the ride experience best:

“Anyone can come and experience New York City like never before. If you want to leisurely rise high above The Big Apple to get the best cityscape view you’ve ever had, there are gondolas designed just for you. If you are feeling like you could use a little natural stimulation and want to feel a little speed and g-force, we’ve got that as well.

“If, however, you are a complete adrenaline junky and want to experience the most thrilling sensation of your life – complete weightlessness for several seconds, it is all here at the HALO! You can quietly observe your heartrate increase and your palms perspire as you are securely locked into our fail safe restraint system. Relax, and trust our safely record and observe the ground as it moves farther and farther away. Notice the yellow taxi cabs on the streets shrink to the size of tiny toys or, lift your head a little and watch the awesome New York City skyline appear and look out over the ocean. Your gondola will be raised 1200 feet into the sky. You will pause momentarily at the top. Your five senses will be on high alert as you painfully wait for the plunge. Without warning your seat will plummet. You will, likely, gasp as you begin your free fall toward the city

far below. You will, likely, feel an exhilarating flutter in your stomach. You will reach speeds in excess of 100 mph! Will you be clutching your harness with super human strength or will you be surrendering to the sensation with your hands held high? There is one way to find out. Finally, after what may seem like an eternity (really only 6 seconds) you will begin your deceleration. The vulnerable, fluttery, weightless sensation will smoothly transition to the secure reassur- ing feeling of begin saved by the fail-safe, permanent magnetic braking system. You will feel relief as your body comes to rest securely into your seat. If your arms were up high, you will feel them get heavy again. In fact, your arms will feel 3.5 times as heavy as normal as you will be experiencing a 3.5 g decelera- tion. After your reentry into NYC, there will be a small recovery period as your adrenaline levels stabilize and your heartrate returns. Thanks for riding.

P.S. If you were clutching the restraint, you will have to repeat the experience until you can raise your hands high into the air and thoroughly experience weightlessness.

Come again.