ENTRY #531

PODIA by TVK / Planda


Identify a public space

Located in the center of New York, the building of Grand Central Station could certainly be a place for expression, political and social action.
More specifically, Vanderbilt Hall, the former area for passengers who took shelter while waiting. This space, whose original function has been abandoned, is a monumental hall located next to the main hall.

Today, it remains mostly unoccupied and a rope barrier allows travelers who enter from 42nd Street to pass directly through to the station. It is occasionally the location for cultural, artistic or commercial events, without a proper daily use. It is the perfect place for expression, both symbolically and structurally. This is a public space with almost 24/7 access.

As an important transit hub, it is a point of entry and exit for Manhattan. It brings together a variety of people with a wide range of activities, origins and destinations. The basement of the station has been converted in recent years into a commercial area offering many services. Despite the improvements in transportation networks of contemporary metropolises, travelers are always forced to wait when transferring from one mode of transportation to another.

We therefore propose to reinvest in the “waiting room” by giving back its original purpose, while assigning it a new role for promoting citizenship. This project provides an alternative to the commercial area, where everyone, for a minute or for an hour, can express themselves freely, or listen to those who, like them, are simple travelers.

View the Current Space

Design Proposal

Our project aims to give travelers an activity while waiting. Composed of two symmetrical volumes facing each other, the project extends on either side of the space around the central circulation. It takes the form of two light system bleachers, structured around a central podium.

The project is conceivable as a long-term architecture or easily movable or removable, depending on the needs. The structure spans 6 meters high, 12 meters wide, and 16 meters long. Two staircases allow to climb and sit at the desired height.

The structures offer a wide range of possible configurations such as oral presentations, lectures, debates, artistic performances … all enhanced by their vis-à-vis. Public speaking could be organized or may be left to the discretion of the people. In the case of specific events, a gateway might connect the podiums, so as to provide a direct connection between them.

Whatever the configuration, the traffic function of the room is maintained, since the transition between the entrance and the main hall is left free. Passengers wishing neither to wait nor to participate also are given a role as witnesses, and pass unimpeded through a public space open to the world.

Finally, the installation of the structure in this monumental and historical space, allows us to offer a change of perspective. From above, the look of its architecture changes. It will then be possible to rediscover it with new eyes as space of architectural quality, even after being crossed thousands of times.

View the Design Proposal


The structure of our project for the Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station spans 6 meters high, 12 meters wide, and 16 meters long. It takes the form and structure of two light system bleachers, structured with a central podium. That installation would be relatively simple to conceive and made from common prefabricated materials like wood and steel. These kinds of light and simple structures, quick to realise, move, or remove, are already well integrated into the city of New York and perfectly match to New York construction culture and life style. The project is conceivable as a long-term architecture or easily movable or removable, depending on the needs.

Our team is interested into developing a partnership with a scaffolding or a bleacher company to help develop and realise the project.

We would also like to develop a partnership with architecture schools (like 1024 Architecture did at the Venise biennial for the french pavillon or Work ac for their installation at PS1 in the Queens « PF1 ») to create workshops with students to help build and take down the structure.

Also a collaboration with the Metro-North Commuter Railroad Company even crowd funding could offer a solution to help fund the installation of the project.


Our team is an innovative association of two French architectural firms, an experienced and an emergent one.

TVK is an experienced architecture, urban design and urban planning studio founded in 2003 by Pierre Alain Trévelo and Antoine Viger-Kohler, formed in Paris and Harvard. The office currently has a team of 35 people working on a wide range of projects from different scales. TVK has gained recognition through its ability to take a new, decompartmentalised look at subjects strongly affected by complex realities. The studio just completed the redevelopment of Place de la République, Paris’ largest pedestrian square.
For Grand Central’s project, TVK’s team was composed by Pierre Alain Trévelo (architect, urbanist, founding partner of TVK), Antoine Viger-Kohler (architect, urbanist founding partner of TVK), Océane Ragoucy (architect, communications project manager), Gemma Milà (architect, landscaper) and François Ricros (architect, infographics specialist).

Planda is an emerging architecture studio based in Paris, France, through the partnership of architects Julien Jacquot and Marc-Antoine Maillard. They have developed a joint practice, through which they participate in competitions and develop various projects from architecture and product design, to urban planning and interior design.