PUSH TO SAVE PENN

Architect Vishaan Chakrabarti sheds light on his proposed plan to save the distressed passenger portal.

Aired on November 27, 2017. 

TRANSCRIPT

> SO-CALLED SUMMER OF HELL AT PENN STATION HAS COME AND GONE BUT FOR 650,000 COMMUTERS WHO PASS THROUGH BIGGEST TRANSIT HUB EVERY DAY, MANY OF THE ISSUES THAT PLAGUED THE STATION REMAIN FAR FROM RESOLVED.

TOO MANY DELAYS, TOO FEW TRAINS AND STATION THAT MOST NEW YORKERS AGREE IS FAR TOO UGLY FOR THE CITY'S STATURE.

ADD CAPACITY TO THE SYSTEM BUT THOUSANDS MORE WILL ENTER AND LEAVE THE EXISTING STATION EVERY DAY.

THAT'S WHY OUR NEXT GUEST SAYS THAT NOW IS THE TIME TO RETHINK, RENEW AND REBUILD PENN STATION.

HE'S GOT A PLAN TO DO IT.

CHAKRABARTI IS AN ARCHITECT, RAN OFFICE UNDER MAYOR BLOOMBERG.

HE JOINS ME NOW.

FIRST OF ALL, AFTER THE SUMMER OF HELL, THINK MOST NEW YORKERS KNOW THAT PENN STATION HAS A LOT OF PROBLEMS.

WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS THAT PENN STATION HAS THAT YOUR PLAN WOULD RESOLVE?

HELL ISN'T OVER, CLEARLY FOR MOST PEOPLE WHO USE THE STATION.

WHAT OUR PLAN TRIES TO RESOLVE IS THREE THINGS -- CAPACITY, SAFETY AND DIGNITY.

CAPACITY.

YOU MENTIONED GATEWAY, IT BUILDS TWO NEW TUNNELS, VERY MUCH NEEDED BECAUSE OF THE DAMAGE FROM SANDY AND SO FORTH.

GATEWAY INTRODUCE ABOUT 200,000 MORE PEOPLE INTO THE STATION IF YOU ADD UP MORNING AND NIGHTTIME RUSH HOURS.

MOST OF THE PEOPLE POUR INTO THE LOWEST LEVEL, NINE OR TEN FOOT CEILING HEIGHT THAT YOU MOVE THROUGH TO TRANSFER TO SUBWAYS FROM COMMUTER LINES.

ALREADY TOO CONGESTED.

TO GET MORE TRAIN CAPACITY YOU CAN'T JUST BUILD A NEW GARDEN HOSE AND POUR ALL THE WATER INTO THE SAME RUSTY BUCKET.

YOU NEED A NEW BUCKET.

SO IT PAIRS WITH THE GATEWAY PLAN FOR BRINGING IN CAPACITY.

SECOND, SAFETY.

ALREADY HAD BAD INCIDENTS.

PEOPLE HURT IN STAMPEDES AND FRANKLY INCIDENTS THAT WORNT THAT SEVERE.

GOD FORBID SOMETHING MORE SEVERE HAPPENS.

REASON THERE'S SAFETY ISSUES, LOW CEILINGS, DISORIENTING, YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE TO GO IN THE EVENT OF EMERGENCY.

DON'T HAVE A SENSE OF WHERE THE ENTRANCES ARE.

ASK YOUR AVERAGE NEW YORKER, EVENT, RATHER BE IN GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL OR PENN STATION?

KNOW INTUITIVELY, GRAND CENTRAL.

THERE'S LIGHT, AIR, YOU KNOW WHERE THE EXITS ARE AND HOW TO GET OUT.

ITS PROBLEMATIC.

AND UGLINESS, IT'S NOT A DIGNIFIED WAY TO ENTER AND EXIT THIS GREAT CITY.

ALSO NEW JERSEY IS THE FASTEST GROWING COMMUTER SHED IN AMERICA AND EXPECTING A LOT MORE.

CURRENT THINGS BEEN DONE AT PENN, GOOD THINGS HIKE OPENING UP WEST END CONCOURSE UNDERNEATH THE FARLEY POST OFFICE AND THE FARLEY PLAN IN GENERAL IS GOOD THING BUT DOESN'T HELP RIDERS FROM NEW JERSEY ESPECIALLY VERY MUCH.

AND DOESN'T HELP THE MAIN PART OF THE STATION.

FUNCTIONALLY BENEFICIAL AS YOUR PLAN IS, THING THAT GRABS YOU OFF THE BAT IS HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS.

GIVE US A SUMMARY OF THE HIGHLIGHTS OF THE CHANGES.

ONE OF THE BIG CHALLENGES HAS BEEN, EVEN IF YOU GET GARDEN TO MOVE, HOW DO YOU BUILD A NEW STATION WHERE THE GARDEN SITS?

ALL THOSE PEOPLE DOWN THERE, BUILDING NEW FOUNDATIONS AND STRUCTURE IS VERY EXPENSIVE, DISRUPTIVE, AND WE REALLY HAD AN AHA MOMENT WHEN WE REALIZED IF THE GARDEN MOVED, WE COULD RECYCLE EXISTING BUILDING.

STRUCTURE IS STILL SOUND.

RIP AWAY THE UGLY SKIN OF THE GARDEN.

CONCRETE SKIN?

YEAH.

RECLAD IN GLASS, SUSTAINABLY REHEAT AND COOL IT.

YOU COULD MOVE IN AND OUT WITHOUT DOORS MOST DAYS.

KING'S CROSS STATION IN LONDON, SIMILAR STRATEGIES WERE USED.

BUT KEY IS BECAUSE IT'S RECYCLING PLAN, IT'S CHEAPER TO BUILD, MORE TIME EFFECTIVE IN TERMS OF CONSTRUCTION AND STILL CAN GET A BEAUTIFUL STATION.

HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST?

WE HAD FAIRLY SOPHISTICATED COST ANALYSIS THAT'S ABOUT $1 MILLION.

THAT'S A LOT OF MONEY BUT SPENT FIVE TIMES THAT AT WORLD TRADE CENTER SITE AND DOESN'T HANDLE ANYWHERE NEAR THE NUMBER.

THAT'S FAIRLY LOW NUMBER FOR THIS MAGNITUDE.

MAKES SENSE, 'NEW YORK TIMES' LOVES IT, MOST ARCHITECTS AND NEW YORKERS WILL LOVE IT.

GOVERNOR CUOMO?

YOU HAVE TO ASK HIM.

IT'S IMPORTANT VOTE.

VERY IMPORTANT.

GOVERNOR MORE THAN THE MAYOR HAS MOST SAY OVER THIS.

LONG ISLAND RAILROAD AND SO FORTH ARE STATE ENTITIES.

I DON'T THINK THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE IS CLOSED TO THE IDEA.

I THINK THEY WANTED TO MAKE SURE THEY GOT FARLEY OFF THE GROUND AND WORKING HARD TO DO THAT.

I APPLAUD THAT.

IT'S IMPORTANT.

BUT FARLEY IS PHASE ONE TO LARGER FIX.

AT ITS BEST, SERVE ABOUT 20% OF THE PEOPLE WHO USE THE STATION.

THAT LEAVES HALF A MILLION PEOPLE A DAY.

WHICH YOUR PLAN WOULD RESOLVE.

ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC THIS WILL HAPPEN?

ALWAYS OPTIMISTIC.

AND THIS IS ACHIEVABLE.

LOT OF THE STUFF WE LOOKED AT FOR PENN HAS BEEN PIE-IN-THE-SKY.

THIS HAS HIGH ACHIEVABILITY FACTOR FOR IT, NOT EASY BUT EASIER THAN WORLD TRADE CENTER, HUDSON YARD, THIS IS NEW YORK, WE CAN BUILD TOUGH THINGS, WE'VE PROVEN THAT.

THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANKING FOR HAVING ME.

> BLACK ROCK FOREST, SCIENTIFIC FIELD STATION IN THE HUDSON HIGHLANDS JUST 60 MILES NORTH OF NEW YORK CITY.

AIM OF THOSE THAT LOOK AFTER THIS LAND, ADVANCING SCIENTIFIC UNDERSTANDING OF THE NATURAL WORLD THROUGH RESEARCH, EDUCATION AND CONSERVATION PROGRAMS.

AND THIS SUMMER 60 BOYS AND GIRLS FROM NEW YORK CITY INNER CITY SCHOOLS HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPLORE BLACK ROCK FOREST AS PART OF THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY'S YOUTH INITIATIVE.

IT'S PART OF THE ONGOING INITIATIVE, IMPORTANCE OF GETTING YOUTH OUT OF THE CITY AND INTO THE WILD.

DR. RAE WYNN GRANT IS ECOLOGIST AMONG THOSE LEADING THE STUDENTS.

JOINS US NOW.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

I'M FASCINATED ABOUT YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF BLACK BEARS.

I LIVE IN THE HUDSON VALLEY AND OCCASIONALLY WE SEE THEM AROUND.

ARE THEY SOMETHING THAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE AFRAID OF?

ARE THEY FRIENDLY?

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH BLACK BEARS IN A SUBURBAN RURAL COMMUNITY?

I WOULD SAY NOT NECESSARILY FRIENDLY BUT NOT NECESSARILY SOMETHING TO BE AFRAID OF.

SO IF YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT'S NATURAL FOR THIS AREA, THERE WAS A TIME BLACK BEARS WERE WHERE WE'RE SITTING IN MANHATTAN, USED TO BE FOREST, BLACK BEARS AND WOLVES AND MOUNTAIN LIONS, ALL HERE.

AS WE URBANIZED WE STARTING PUSHING ANIMALS FURTHER FROM THE CENTER OF THE AREA.

LOT OF OVERHUNTING AND EXPLOITATION AND NOW BLACK BEARS ARE RECOLONIZING THE HISTORIC HABITAT, RE-ENTERING THE SYSTEMS.

WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF BEARS AND LARGE CARNIVORES YOU HAVE, WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF TAKING KIDS FROM INNER CITY SCHOOLS IN NEW YORK CITY WHERE THEY PROBABLY HAVEN'T EVEN HEARD CRICKETS OR OWLS AND BRINGING THEM INTO THE WOODS?

FANTASTIC.

WHERE I WORK, WE HAVE A PROGRAM THAT TARGETS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FROM UNDERREPRESENTED IN SCIENCE.

WAY WE BEGIN THAT PROGRAM IS BRING THEM ON A BIG CAMPING TRIP.

SPEND A WEEK UPSTATE IN BLACK ROCK FOREST.

MOST OF THEM HAVE NEVER EVEN LEFT THE CITY, SOME RARELY LEFT THEIR OWN BOROUGH.

I WAS ADULT WHEN I FIRST ENTERED THE WILDERNESS.

WHAT WAS THE EXPERIENCE LIKE?

HEARD LOT OF STORIES ABOUT KIDS IN DENSE URBAN AREA THAT GET FREAKED OUT BY DARK AND SILENCE.

YEAH.

MOST OF THEM LIKE IT BUT SOME ARE TERRIFIED.

THERE'S A BIG FEAR ABOUT THE UNKNOWN, SOMETHING YOU'VE NEVER EXPERIENCED.

IT'S INTERESTING TO SEE WHAT DIFFERENT STUDENTS REACT TO.

SOME CAN'T TAKE MOSQUITOES AND BUGS.

REALLY SMALL THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT THINK ARE THAT SCARY MIGHT INTIMIDATE SOMEBODY FROM URBAN SETTING.

OTHER STUDENTS AFRAID OF THE BEARS AND SNAKES AND DEER RUNNING ACROSS THE PATH, LARGE ANIMALS THAT ARE ACTUALLY THREATENING TO YOU.

SOME STUDENTS DON'T LIKE WHEN IT'S DARK IT'S COMPLETELY DARK.

NO LIGHTS, NOT A LOT OF ELECTRICITY, FLASHLIGHT IS IT.

BUT MOST LOVE IT.

TONS OF PICTURES, CAN'T WAIT TO SHOW FAMILY AND FRIENDS AT HOME.

WE'RE GETTING THEM TO HANDLE LIVE ANIMALS, TURTLES AND SNAKES AND MICE AND BIRDS SOMETIMES.

ABLE TO GET THEIR HANDS ON WILD ANIMALS.

TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE -- YOU'VE TALKED ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF INCLUSIVE SCIENCE.

ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND SO EXCITING TO SEE, SEEING MORE AND MORE BLACK AND BROWN FACES IN THE WOODS.

ABSOLUTELY.

SO WE FIND THAT ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES THAT INCLUDE ECOLOGY OR CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE, PLANTS, FOREST, THOSE SCIENCES ARE MISSION DRIVEN.

LESS AND LESS FORESTS AND WILDLIFE IN THE WORLD AND TRYING TO SAVE THOSE SPACES AND SPECIES, NOT DOING AN AMAZING JOB RIGHT?

STILL LOSING THAT BATTLE.

GOAL OF INCREASING DIVERSITY IS NOT JUST A MORALLY CORRECT GOAL BUT IT'S ALSO PROBLEM SOLVING.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF THINKERS WITH DIFFERENT LIFE EXPERIENCES AND PERSPECTIVES, MORE LIKELY TO SOLVE THE CRITICAL MISSIONS AND BE SUCCESSFUL.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO BE INVOLVED, GIVEN YOU ARE ONE OF THE FIRST OR THE FIRST SCIENTIST IN YOUR FIELD.

I CAME OF AGE WHEN I DIDN'T SEE MYSELF REFLECTED IN THE FIELD AT ALL.

I WAS INSPIRED BY A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO WEREN'T LIKE ME, AND THAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT.

BUT I KNOW I WOULD HAVE BEEN MORE INSPIRED, SO MANY SELF-ESTEEM AND CONFIDENCE HURDLES I WOULDN'T HAVE HAD TO GO THROUGH IF I HAD SEEN MYSELF REFLECTED IN THE FIELD.

I WANT TO MAKE SURE STUDENTS NOW DON'T HAVE GO THROUGH THOSE BARRIERS.

ARE YOU SECOND MOST FAMOUS SCIENTIST AT MUSEUM NEXT TO DR. NEIL DE GRAS TYSON WHICH EVERYBODY LOVES?

I ALSO LOVE HIM.

THERE ARE BIG-NAME SCIENTISTS IN THAT MUSEUM I ASPIRE TO BE JUST LIKE WHEN I PROGRESS.

BUT I HOPE MY NAME GETS OUT MORE.

END UP ON THE STUDENTS' SNAPCHAT AND ALL, YOU NEVER KNOW.

ABSOLUTELY.

THANKS FOR JOINING US AND TALKING ABOUT WILDLIFE THAT USED TO BE HERE AND IS COMING BACK AND INVOLVING KIDS FROM THE CITY INTO STUDY OF ECOLOGY.

IT'S WONDERFUL, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

♪ ALL THAT JAZZ, START THE CAR, I KNOW A SPOT WHERE THE GIN IS COLD BUT THE JAZZ IS HOT ♪ ♪ AND ALL THAT JAZZ

DANCER, SINGER, ACTRESS, BEBE NEUWIRTH HAS ALL THAT JAZZ.

TWO TONYS AND TWO EMMY AWARDS TO PROVE IT.

ONE TONY FOR BEST PERFORMANCE IN 'SWEET CHARITY' AND 1997, BEST PERFORMANCE AS VELMA KELLY IN REVIVAL OF 'CHICAGO' AND TWO BACK-TO-BACK EMMY AWARDS FOR MEMORABLE ROLE AS DR. LILITH STERNIN IN 'CHEERS'.

I'LL HAVE A WHITE WINE.

I'LL HAVE A BEER.

CHARMING LADY.

YOUR FLATTERY IS OBLIGATORY AND SPECIOUS.

THANK YOU.

BEEN STARRING IN 'MADAM SECRETARY' AND ANOTHER AWARD, ABINGTON THEATER COMPANY AT 25th ANNIVERSARY GALA.

DELIGHTED TO WELCOME BEBE NEUWIRTH.

NICE TO MEET YOU.

AND YOU.

PEOPLE CALL YOU LILITH.

NICE THEY KNOW YOU.

ABSOLUTELY.

I LOVE THE STORY ABOUT HOW YOU GOT THAT ROLE THAT, IT WAS OFFERED BUT YOU WERE PERFORMING, HAD SOMETHING ELSE GOING ON AND AT FIRST NOT INCLINED TO DO IT.

I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT DOING TELEVISION, JUST WANTED TO DANCE ON BROADWAY, AND I WAS TANSING ON BROADWAY, DURING THAT REVIVAL OF 'SWEET CHARITY' YOU'RE LEAD DEBBIE ALLEN HAD TO FINISH UP HER SERIES 'FAME.'

WE DID THE SHOW IN LOS ANGELES AND SAN FRANCISCO, FOUR MONTHS OFF AND CAME BACK TO BROADWAY.

DURING THOSE FOUR MONTHS I LIVED IN LOS ANGELES AND STARTED AUDITIONING FOR WHATEVER, ONE OF THOSE WHATEVERS WAS A VERY SMALL PART ON 'CHEERS.'

SO I WENT AND DID IT.

AND THAT'S THAT.

GO TO NEW YORK, GO TO BROADWAY.

AND SOME MONTHS LATER 'CHEERS' CALLED AND SAID WOULD YOU COME AND DO ANOTHER EPISODE?

SAME CHARACTER.

THEN I WAS BACKSTAGE WITH MICHAEL RUPERT, PLAYING OSCAR.

WE WERE SITTING BACKSTAGE IN THE SHOW, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WHEN THEY ASK YOU TO BE ON 'CHEERS' AS A REGULAR?

I SAID THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

HE SAID YEAH, THAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

GOD, I DON'T KNOW, I LOVED THE PART AND ALWAYS HAD A FUN TIME WHEN I DID IT, BUT NEVER CONSIDERED BEING ON TELEVISION AS PART OF MY LIFE.

YOU WERE DANCING, BROADWAY PERFORMER.

YEAH.

SO THEY ASKED ME TO DO IT.

IT WAS COMPLICATED DECISION, TRICKY.

SO I SOUGHT THE COUNSEL OF FOUR PEOPLE, BOB FOSSEY, GWEN BURDEN, MOMMY AND DADDY.

GOOD PEOPLE.

CAN'T BEAT THEM.

THERE WAS CONSENSUS AMONG THEM I WOULD BE ALL RIGHT IF I DID THAT, COULD COME BACK TO BROADWAY, ALL BELIEVED I WOULD COME BACK TO BROADWAY.

AT THAT TIME ON BROADWAY, THERE WAS -- IT WAS STARTING TO SHIFT.

PEOPLE BEING CAST IN THE LARGER ROLES, STARTING TO SHIFT TOWARD TELEVISION AND FILM PEOPLE.

AND I THOUGHT, WELL, I'M WORKING MY WAY UP IN THIS, AND IT'S NOT THAT I'M DESPERATE TO BE A STAR, BUT I REALLY LIKE PLAYING THOSE PARTS.

AND IF I DO THE TELEVISION, MAYBE THAT WILL, YOU KNOW, AUGMENT MY CHANCES OF CASTING.

SO THAT WAS PART OF THE DECISION.

EACH OF THESE, THINK PEOPLE WHO PERHAPS DON'T KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION MIGHT NOT REALIZE THAT THEY'RE ALL -- THEY BRING DIFFERENT SKILLS AND TALENTS AND PREPARATIONS.

THEATER, FILM, TELEVISION.

THEY'RE DIFFERENT WAYS THAT YOU PERFORM.

ON BROADWAY, YOU'RE GOING START TO FINISH.

DOING A TV SERIES, STOP, RESTART, DO LINES AGAIN.

DIFFERENT PROCESS.

STAGE IS HARDBALL, AND NOT TO MIX METAPHORS BUT I WILL, THERE'S NO NET.

GOOD METAPHORS, BOTH OF THEM.

AND MAYBE THIS IS LIKE ASKING A PARENT DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE CHILD, I DON'T KNOW, BUT YOU'VE GONE SEEMLESSLY THROUGH ALL OF THOSE.

IS IT STILL BROADWAY?

IF SOMEBODY SAID OKAY, YOU COULD ONE THING?

ON STAGE, ABSOLUTELY.

STILL DANCING AND SINGING.

YES.

I DON'T DANCE AS ATHLETICALLY AS I USED TO, BUT I STILL DANCE.

AND YEAH.

I'M MOST COMFORTABLE ON THE STAGE.

THAT'S VERY, VERY NATURAL TO ME.

YEAH.

BUT IT'S ALL -- YOU KNOW, YES.

SPEAKING FOR ALL OF YOUR FANS, AND I COUNT MYSELF AMONG THEM --

THANK YOU.

-- IT'S BEEN A LOVELY OPPORTUNITY TO CHAT WITH YOU.

WE LOVE YOU ON ALL THESE VENUES AND PLATFORMS.

LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AGAIN ON MANY OF THEM.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

BE WELL.

TAKE CARE.

YOU TOO.

♪♪

Funders

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