On January 1, 2021, the world collectively turned the page, hoping to leave the hardships of 2020 behind. To symbolize forward momentum, New Year’s Day was also when the Moynihan Train Hall in New York was unveiled. The monumental civic project has been decades in the making; it was 1998 when Skidmore, Owings & Merrill began on it with a goal to evoke the Beaux-Arts majesty of the original Pennsylvania Station across the street. The hall, named after late New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who proposed the project in the ’90s, occupies 225,000 square feet in the landmarked James A. Farley Post Office Building (where Facebook has leased office space). Among its glorious features is a vaulted skylight, akin to what had capped Penn Station, composed of 500 glass and steel panels that traverse the entire space. Perhaps equal in breathtaking qualities is the art program: three permanent site-specific installations, one each by Stan Douglas, Elmgreen & Dragset, and Kehinde Wiley. The latter’s is a celestial stained-glass triptych fusing Renaissance painting and 18th-century ceiling-fresco styles with Black women and men breakdancing. It crowns the nearly 30-foot ceiling at a main entryway. “Unlike the mythological figures of Renaissance ceilings,” Public Art Fund director and chief curator Nicholas Baume says, “Kehinde’s subjects have the athletic skill to defy gravity, celebrating the joyous expression of Black bodies in motion.”
In honor of Black History Month, the Interior Design team is spotlighting the narratives, works, and craft traditions of Black architects, designers, and creatives. See our full coverage here.