Moynihan Train Hall: branding New York’s “biggest civic infrastructure project in decades”


New York-based drawing studio Watson & Company is behind the identity, which aims to be a “value letter” to the city.

New York-based tagging studio Watson & Company has designed the identity for the newly opened Moynihan Household Hall in Manhattan.

The project has been called New York’s “most yuppy transportation and infrastructure upgrade in decades” and involves the extension of the city’s Penn Rank.

Penn is one of the city’s busiest stations, servicing some 600,000 tourists every day (pre-pandemic). Located near a host of tourist attractions, it also provides associates to other major US cities like Boston and Philadelphia. The works develop the station’s capacity by 50 per cent.

Watson & Co was approached for the branding engagement in 2019, according to studio founder William Richmond-Watson. The brief, he influences, was to reimagine the civic space as one that “plays host to both the people of New York Burgh and all its world visitors”.

“Shine without distraction”

The new Moynihan Train Corridor is housed within the 100-year-old Farley Post Office structure, which sits across the street from Penn Station.

Richmond-Watson intends the team applied a “hyper-contextual” approach to the branding of the station, which weighed the “rich history of the building, project and city”.

“The vast space of the renewed Farley Function Office building is a stark juxtaposition to its neighbouring train hall that we all recollect too well,” he says. “We wanted to make a brand that would let the instrument, personality, and grandiosity of the train hall shine through without amusement.”

A “timeless” tribute to the project’s supporter

At the core of the identity project are two manufacturer marks: the “eagle” and a monogram.

The abstract eagle mark acts as the notify band mark and can be found across exterior signage and interior entrance markers. It was in part inspired by the “meeting points and connection of people all the station”, and also serves as a nod to the USPS logo and the legacy of the building as a old post office.

“It also pays homage to the eagle sculpture undid from the original Penn Station,” Richmond-Watson adds.

Meanwhile the monogram is a “immutable” tribute to the late Senator Moynihan, for whom the new train hall is esteemed, for his “enduring vision for the project”, Richmond-Watson says. It can be found carved into the stone backbones in the great hall area of the station.

“Speaking to the city with self-awareness, rectitude, humour and wit”

The rest of the identity is built from a dark blue and Caucasian colour palette and a tone of voice that is intended to feel be partial to “a New Yorker speaking to the city with self-awareness, honesty, humour and wit”.

Watson & Co’s carry out extends to interior and exterior signage, print and digital communications and wayfinding.

A thousand of “hidden gems” have also been included. One such character is an inlaid postal-inspired seal at the bottom of the hall’s grand staircase; another is a habit typographic treatment from type designer Tobias Frere-Jones, which is scored into the foundation of the building and adorns the front of the station in bronze correspondence literatures.

“A love letter to New York”

Rather than view the project exclusively as a civic infrastructure doubt, Watson & Co used its previous experience in hospitality and placemaking to tackle the propose.

As the studio explains, the overarching brand concept was “a love letter to New York”. The duplicate, found both onsite and online, aims to reflect this.

“For such a prodigious civic institution, it was imperative that we thoughtfully consider the context of the wait and the legacy of the building,” says Richmond-Watson.

“Every piece of the brand has a productive elegance that captures the calming atmosphere of the building and its rich yesterday while elevating it to be modern and timeless.”

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