Demolition Ramps Up for PENN15 Supertall at 15 Penn Plaza in Midtown, Manhattan

Penn District. Rendering by DBOX.

Demolition work is ramping up for PENN 15, a 56-story, 1,200-foot commercial supertall at 15 Penn Plaza in MidtownManhattan. Designed by Foster + Partners and developed by Vornado Realty Trust, the 2.7 million-square-foot tower will replace the aging Hotel Pennsylvania and stand as the tallest component in the 7.4 million-square-foot Penn District master plan. 401 Hotel Reit is the owner and Northstar Contracting Group is the demolition contractor for the property, which is bound by Seventh Avenue to the west, West 32nd Street to the south, and West 33rd Street to the north.

Since our last update in early March, scaffolding and construction netting has begun to enshroud the 102-year-old McKim, Mead & White-designed hotel, obscuring portions of its brick and stone façade.

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

We could likely see the entire structure covered by the summer, with the bulk of demolition proceeding in 2023. We have documented other even taller buildings in New York City being razed in less than a year, most notably being the former 707-foot-tall Union Carbide Building at 270 Park Avenue. Hotel Pennsylvania’s 20-story superstructure is just under half of the height of JPMorgan Chase’s old headquarters, so demolition could potentially reach street level before the middle of next year.

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Below are photographs taken in early March that show the former main entrance to the hotel before the sidewalk was closed off to the public and covered with scaffolding.

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

Photo by Michael Young

The following photo from a few days ago shows the a partial view of the front steps to the lobby.

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Hotel Pennsylvania. Photo by Michael Young

Demolition is expected to finish by July 2023, as noted on the construction board. No completion date for PENN15 has been formally announced yet.

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48 Comments on "Demolition Ramps Up for PENN15 Supertall at 15 Penn Plaza in Midtown, Manhattan"

  1. David in Bushwick | June 7, 2022 at 8:32 am | Reply

    Vornado is disgusting.

  2. Farewell to you our old fleabitten friend. We’ll always have the song. Not really looking forward to the bland PENN15 to rise though. I am hoping at least a couple of the other Empire/Penn District buildings are more attractive. We will see eventually. Excelsior!

  3. Who is paying for all these new buildings, New York State? Why?

  4. why is the expansion and rennovation of penn station not the FIRST thing to be constructed with this plan? we need that station redone, not another glass office building

    • Because the funding mechanism for the station improvements is the increased property taxes from the surrounding new development(s).

      • there will be no property taxes. They will pay PILOTS, payments in Lieu of taxes instead.
        These pilots are a scam and NY State will be on the hook for all this lost money.
        Vornado Trust and it’s billionaire CEO have been lining the pockets of NYS Governor Cuomo and Hochul to get this done using eminent domain, actually trying to demolish the 150 year old Catholic Church on 32nd street
        There is absolutely no need for more office space and these skyscrapers will sit empty for years if they ever get built.
        What a scam on taxpayers.
        It’s a joke and a billion dollar boondoggle

        • “…absolutely no need for more office space…”: The developers disagree – and they have the data to back it up. There IS a need for office space, as the healthy pace of newly-signed leases in the new Hudson Yards/Manhattan West buildings are indicators of that need. Or at least desire for more modern space.

    • 2 fold…

      1. The funding comes from these land leases and such as no one (private citizens) is willing to increase taxes or pay for the station outside of selling/leasing land… no one is willing to pay for the “public good” benefit that a new Penn would bring.

      2. The only real way to improve Penn is to eliminate Madison square garden… and that was part of the Penn plan to relocate it….

  5. I wish the developers would drop the moniker “PENN15”, because whenever I see that, my eye tells me it’s saying something else. The tower’s design isn’t _that_ phallic. Can we go back to calling this site 401 Seventh Avenue? Please?

  6. David : Sent From Heaven. | June 7, 2022 at 9:21 am | Reply

    Development boom for supertall in the area of all beautiful and different facade designs. Showing the conditional structure with size, in order that working should be effective: Thanks to Michael Young.

  7. Murat Karamanli | June 7, 2022 at 9:33 am | Reply

    Hoping the iconic columns facade of the Hotel Pennsylvania stays there .

  8. The Hotel Pennsylvania is decades past its useful life. It’s sad to see a once-beautiful building demolished, but this was inevitable and necessary. Excited for the new structure to come to life.

    • how can a structure come to life?
      we don’t need glass super tall office buildings that will sit empty paid for with our tax dollars.
      It’s a scam and a billion dollar boondoggle

      • Guesser, are you trying to sound as goofy and reactionary as possible? Everything you say is ridiculous.

  9. This is heartbreaking. Yes, I know the Hotel Pennsylvania is old and dated, but it’s such an iconic and beautiful building with a great history and so many fond memories. And all to be replaced by a lifeless tower of the 21st century.

    • Another legal crime is happening in New York history, they will not build anything better. City destroying its own history. Shame on Foster too. Why not to renovate such a building, why it’s necessary only one way to demolish it! It’s a crime!

  10. david russell | June 7, 2022 at 9:50 am | Reply

    A Euro-fleabag in its latter years, but an important part of NYC’s architectural and social history over the last century. Ave atque vale!

  11. Please keep those front columns.

  12. Next Madison Square Garden and Penn Station should be totally demolished. But no, Dolan’s
    eyesore garden keeps adding unsightly addition after addition, as the ramshackle “ improvements” to Penn Station continue.
    ….Two of The City’s prized Iconic eyesores.

  13. That redevelopment is desired in this spot is not an issue. However, there are a handful of questions we ought to be asking with a structure like this. 1) We tore down Penn and lamented ever since. Architecturally, we are doing something similar here. Is it worth it? Obviously it’s not landmarked otherwise the tear down can’t proceed. But we went to such trouble to redevelop Farley, would there not have been another opportunity here? 2) What value is served. It seems to me that Hotel Penn is the kind of building ripe for residential conversion. Considering the big question mark that is commercial development is a commercial replacement really wise or the best investment? 3) If you are going to do a tear down of a venerabal structure in a venerable location can we please build something awesome? There is so much fantastic architecture going on in New York do we need to a historic teardown for another Jenga box? Really? Look at some of the early rendering ideas for this project. They are wonderful and one could easily make the case that yes, we are losing an old friend and it’s sad, but this newer structure will be tall, bold, and beautiful. OK. It’s New York we can live with that. But now the current rendering shows we are to have another Jenga building? For crying out loud… showing me as an architect that you can cantilever something does not make a beautiful building. 🙁 Hotel Penn was past it’s prime. But now we are getting a snore of a project (that might be empty).

  14. We are repeating the same mistake we made when we tore down Penn Station. Worse, this time architects and the public are primarily silent. We don’t stand for anything but money.

  15. Hope birds don’t hit the glass

  16. City of idiots!
    Destroying its own history, building typical towers, losing identity.
    Actually it’s is a crime.
    Very sad.

    • The hotel is the epitome of “typical towers” of its era. It’s absolutely nothing special architecturally – it derives its “iconicness” from its scale, its pop-culture influence and its revered architect.

  17. Russell Driver | June 7, 2022 at 1:48 pm | Reply

    After knocking down the Astor Hotel and the Singer Building.. who cares about this one..
    The crime has been committed already..

  18. The building next door is a well preserved example of architecture from that era, and it appears that building is being refurbished. So at least we will still have that one to look at.

  19. This site is no different than the Waldorf Astoria or The Plaza. Should have been renovated.

  20. Cheesemaster200 | June 7, 2022 at 4:04 pm | Reply

    You only have to head up to the Waldorf Astoria to see why the Hotel Pennsylvania is being demolished rather than renovated. That entire project is a complete financial mess, and is being subsidized by converting half the building into luxury condos.

    The Hotel Pennsylvania would have had a hard time selling luxury condos on 7th avenue across from MSG. That means that any attempted renovation would have been a massive money pit, especially with the new sustainability requirements required in the City. The building was coming down or would have remained vacant indefinitely. What is replacing it is kind of irrelevant.

  21. You would think someone would have clued these guys in to the “PEN15” joke.

  22. David of Flushing | June 7, 2022 at 7:17 pm | Reply

    The Hotel Pennsylvania was the largest hotel in the world when it opened and was notable for having a private bathroom for every room. The lobby was originally a two-story Roman atrium with a “skylight” and lots of potted palms. This was eliminated for more space on the upper level. By modern standards, many of the rooms were rather small. The LIRR tracks run through the basement. The place received dreadful reviews in recent years.

  23. Anthony Wong | June 7, 2022 at 7:27 pm | Reply

    Why can’t we save the facade? Brick makes so much sense for dense cities. The absorb heat in the winter and in the Summer, while glass just reflects off and burns and blinds you. It’s also way nicer to look at.
    Soon enough New York will look like any other city. Bland and undistinguished. I can’t believe New Yorkers are letting themselves be robbed of what could have been such an iconic city.

    • New York City will not be lost because one old building with no practical usefullness is torn down and replaced by another. Thats sort of the history of the city. The Hotel Pennsylvania is not Pennsylvania Station.

  24. Nothing about “PENN15”? Sorry to be so sophomoric, but if 666 Fifth Ave. needed to be rebranded ‘660’, then surely this address could be referred to as “15 PENN”?!? There’s even a picture above of “15 PENN PLAZA”—not “PENN15 PLAZA”! Sheesh…

  25. Vornado = Demolition by neglect. Vornado “promised” (*cough*) that demolition would not begin until they secured a significant tenant for the new building. Yet I have not read anything to confirm this.
    I’d argue that all the current commercial real estate going up will remain unoccupied for decades, as the WFH trend is taking hold. Last I read commerical real estate occupancy in NYC is around 35%.

  26. Is this name really going to stick? Lol.

  27. Please renovate Penn Station and MSG first.

  28. Richard Grayson | June 8, 2022 at 11:32 am | Reply

    You do realize there was a TV show called PEN15.

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