More Details on Our Nov 6th Event with AIANY

Photo by Ron Ziel. Used with Permission 

Photo by Ron Ziel. Used with Permission 

 About the event: The program will begin with a reading of selected scenes from The Eternal Space followed by a panel discussion featuring notable photographers, historians, preservationists and urbanists.

The dramatic portion of the program will feature actors Clyde Baldo and Matt Pilieci, who will reprise their workshop roles. Playwright Justin Rivers has adapted his original script for this unique program.  The panelists confirmed at time of release include: Norman McGrath, photographer; James Stamp, architectural historian; Justin Rivers, playwright [N.B. Additional panelists will be announced upon confirmation of their participation]

About the Show: On October 28th, 1963 the demolition of the old Pennsylvania Station began. The wrecking crews worked outside in the morning drizzle to dismantle a fifty-three-year-old architectural marvel.  Inside, a construction worker turned photographer was running away from his past while an aging English teacher couldn't let his go. Their coincidental meeting on that day began a three-year conversation over the value of old and new, as one man fought to keep the station standing while the other was taking it down.  This is the premise for The Eternal Space, a two-man play that charts an unlikely friendship during the social and cultural upheavals of the mid-1960s.

Photography:  Photography is a critical element of the planned stage production, providing the scenic background for the play’s dialogue. Research has amassed a catalog of over 500 never-published/exhibited photos from New York based-photographers. 

50th Anniversary: The event will follow on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the original Penn Station demolition (October 28th). The loss of the beaux-arts building would invigorate the efforts of the preservation movement both locally and nationally. National legislation that followed would later be critical to saving Grand Central Terminal and many other NYC buildings. Plans for a new station structure are contentious points in the coming NYC Mayoral Election.

About the AIA New York Chapter: AIA New York is the oldest and largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects with almost 5,000 architect, allied professional, student, and public members. AIANY is dedicated to three goals: design excellence, public outreach and professional development.      

About the Center for Architecture: The Center for Architecture is a destination for all interested in the built environment. It is home to the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the Center for Architecture Foundation, vibrant nonprofit organizations that provide resources to both the public and building industry professionals. Through exhibitions, programs, and special events, the Center aims to improve the quality and sustainability of the built environment, foster exchange between the design, construction, and real estate communities, and encourage collaborations across the city and globe. For more information, please visit

Remember this is free event, but you need to RSVP. You can do that here.


Lights, Camera, Demolition: NY's Penn Station Recalled On Stage and In Pictures

AIANY / Center for Architecture to Host a Staged Reading of The Eternal Space

Photo by Norman McGrath, Used with Permission 

Photo by Norman McGrath, Used with Permission 

The Eternal Space announced today that we will offer a reading of selected scenes at the Architect’s Institute of America New York’s Center for Architecture as part of a program acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the demolition of the city’s Pennsylvania Station, on Wednesday, November 6th. The evening will also honor unique photography of the demolition from some of the subject’s most noteworthy photographers. Following the reading, a panel discussion with topic experts will occur. The AIANY Historic Building Committee is organizing the event.

The Eternal Space dramatizes the conflicts between those who would replace our architectural legacy in the name of progress, and those whose frame of reference carries heavy intellectual baggage. Is reconciliation possible? Come hear the scintillating dialogue in a play that makes you think twice about what we take for granted," said Rick Bell, Executive Director of AIANY. “We invite architects, historians and urban enthusiasts to attend this unique event.”

The event will take place at the AIANY Center for Architecture’s in the Gerald D. Hines Gallery at 536 LaGuardia Place, New York, NY, at 6:00 PM. The event is free with registration on Brown Paper Tickets.  All photos will be integrated into the reading and panel discussion by projection.

“The tragic destruction of McKim, Mead & White's magnificent Penn Station, which began fifty years ago, remains among the most compelling arguments for the cause of historic preservation in America,” said John Arbuckle, AIANY Historic Building Committee co-chair.

The Eternal Space is a two-man play that begins with a coincidental meeting in 1963, launching a three-year conversation about the value of old and new, as one man fights to keep the station standing while the other is instrumental in taking it down. Using original photography from the journalists who documented the station’s destruction and recreations of broadcast recordings as powerful backdrops to the story, The Eternal Space charts an unlikely friendship during the social and cultural upheavals of the mid-1960s.

 “I am honored that The Eternal Space is being read at the AIANY. This event promises to be an engaging evening that any architect, photographer, theatergoer or historian is sure to enjoy, ” said The Eternal Space playwright Justin Rivers.


Event Summary:                   

November 6, 2013,6:00 PM 

AIANY / Center for Architecture

536 LaGuardia Place

NY, NY 10012

FREE, Registration required

Register at:


For Justin Rivers & The Eternal Space:

Contact: Sara Zick,



Contact: Camila Schaulsohn, Communications Coordinator


A Reading of The Eternal Space at the AIANY on November 6th

The Eternal Space is thrilled to announce that on the evening of November 6th it will be hosting a reading and expert panel discussion at the  Architects Institute of America New York chapter. The program, set to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Penn Station's demolition, will be an evening that promises to captivate any architect, photographer, historian or just your general NYC enthusiast. 

More details to come very soon. 


AIANY's Center for Architecture

AIANY's Center for Architecture

Reaching Out to Photographer Ron Ziel

On Tuesday night, our research team had the privilege of an hour long phone call with photographer, Ron Ziel. He is an accomplished photographer of Penn Station, the LIRR, steam engines and an expert in railroad history. We are glad that he has agreed to lend his Penn Station catalog to the show. For all our Long Island friends, he has the largest archive of LIRR photos anywhere. 

His website is definitely worth a look:

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Teaming Up With Photographer Norman McGrath

Slides from Norman McGrath's Penn Station demolition catalogue.

Slides from Norman McGrath's Penn Station demolition catalogue.

On Monday evening The Eternal Space team was honored to begin its partnership with the accomplished architectural photographer Norman McGrath. His photographic career has spanned over half a century with one of his first projects being Penn Station's demolition during the mid-1960's. 

Mr. McGrath's book Photographing Buildings Inside and Out  had sold nearly 50,000 copies quickly becoming required reading for any one interested in photographing architecture. His work has been featured in Architectural Digest and he has been awarded by the AIA with it's Institute Honor. He has lectured and exhibited at the Center for Architecture here in New York which garnered him a mention in the New York Times and cemented his reputation as a gifted teacher and an authority on the photography of buildings.

My first exposure to McGrath was eight years ago through Hilary Ballon's book, New York's Pennsylvania Stations. In it he presented a stunning photo essay of the station's demolition--the first I had seen in color. This was a topic he spoke on multiple times during our visit: "All the photos I've seen are in black and white and I don't know why." 

McGrath's welcomed myself and set designer Michael Gurdo into his home for an initial overview of his massive demolition collection.  In the short two hours we were there we felt like we hardly made a dent in the two thick binders of slides and boxes of prints. All the while McGrath would pepper our viewings with stories of his shoots. "I was lucky enough to be working for a structural engineer in the Pennsylvania Hotel across the street, so on my lunch, I could just go up to roof." McGrath admitted that he was fascinated by the glass roof of the station's main concourse.  He would say a couple times, "I just loved that roof."

Norman Roof Slide.jpg

Working on the 16th floor of the Pennsylvania Hotel and living on 30th Street afforded him the opportunity to capture the station at all times of day and night and through the different seasons. "We went in unchallenged. You could just walk right in and no one would stop you." He said it was as easy as crawling under a tarp and going about his business.

"They started the demolition with the car ramps and the outside of the station. The columns were massive and you could see the workers struggling. But once they got to the inside it went down in no time. Because it was all faux." Almost like clockwork, I would come across a slide of a partially dismantled column from the interior of the main waiting room. It was virtually hollow with nothing but a girder running up the center of it.  A total stark contrast to the solid granite facade of the station's exterior.

Beyond the vivid color and meticulous compositions, what McGrath's photos did so well was explore the everyday public interacting with the station during the demolition. Most notably there was a photo of a street crowd leaning in to watch the demolition in progress. You couldn't see what they were looking at, but you could see the look on their faces: blank fascination mixed with a hint of disbelief. It so captured a universal feeling that still resonates with people when speaking about the station today. Or more poignantly I came across a slide of an older woman, handkerchief tied around her head, walking out of a shop in the old arcade with the placards behind her reading "FINAL SALE" and "CLEARANCE."

When I asked him if the public seemed at all affected by the demolition at the time. He said that, at first, no one believed they would actually go through with it. But when they started he recalled how incredible it was to witness the coordination of the massive deconstruction effort with the confused flow of commuters and travelers passing through. Cranes were literally suspended over people's heads and "I don't recall anyone ever getting hurt. People would just sit and wait calmly for their trains."

Mr. McGrath displaying his Penn Station collection.

Mr. McGrath displaying his Penn Station collection.

The collection wasn't in any chronological order which made it all the more fun to go through. The juxtaposition between the old station giving way to Madison Square Garden and eventually its current basement location would pop up right next to slides of an untouched facade or the concourse roof intact. Then suddenly I'd see an interior of the brand new Madison Square Garden preparing for the circus or an opening of a new shop in the newly minted subterranean station. Norman McGrath was there from start to finish and then some after the finish. I told him I couldn't find pictures of the new basement station anywhere. He simply pointed and said, "They're right there." It was that kind of tireless consistency in his documentation that one would expect from a structural engineer. Luckily he invited us back to continue our examination and make the difficult choice of what we would feature in the production. 

Toward the end of our time, I noticed a photo of a partially dismantled granite column chained to a flatbed. It was scarred from the chains wrapped around it and the sheer size was nothing short of magnificent. It dwarfed the truck. Then I thought of something he said in passing earlier, "The station just didn't want to yield."

After all these years, it still doesn't.