Grand Central Terminal

New York, NY

It is hard to remember what a desolate place Grand Central Terminal and the surrounding area were in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Some of the issues relate to the economic recession and others to the negligent landlord, a railroad company in bankruptcy.

While it takes many players to make a large and complex project materialize, it requires vision to ignite the group imagination and tenacity to carry the vision through the down time, to believe that once the parts are in place a set piece will unveil itself, and sometimes even a very successful one. The mid to long term goals get worked out in a master plan; the short term ones have to be designed and implemented with the facts at hand, strategic research, and confidence in the lessons of experience.

Coincidentally with the master planning effort, which would take 7 years, the public image and reputation of Grand Central needed to be restored. This was brought about by a change in the mindset of the new landlord (The MTA) to respect the building and the people who were required to walk through it for public transit. An office was set up dedicated to this pursuit. Jeanne Giordano was the first director and remained for seven years inventing and managing a new life for the building. A variety of art, design, ethnic, and cultural exhibits brought in a new customer. These customers needed more things to do and places to eat as there were none in the neighborhood. A variety of new retailing and food concepts were introduced and, where necessary, rents were zero to minimum to get the right tenant who could see the potential and buy into the vision. In addition, the place was opened up for films, concerts, parties, fashion shows, promotions, etc. which were then written about in the news which translated to free publicity. Many of the concepts were fine tuned so that they could become part of the blueprint for the future which was the master plan and the formal leasing plan once all renovations were complete. . 

The net effect of incremental interventions repositioned the image and status of the Terminal with the public and the press even before the actual renovation and releasing. Many of the incubated tenants became part of the end result and the holiday market with small vendors is now an institution and has spawned temporary markets in parks all over the city.

This is one example of a thought process used to telescope between magnitude of scales and different time frames, working from one idea to the next and having every move count for the big picture to eventually show itself.


Grand Central Terminal