A Centennial Sketchbook for Grand Central Terminal

Grand Central Terminal elevation drawing, Warren & Wetmore and Reed & Stem c. 1910 (Courtesy of New York Transit Museum)

On February 2nd, 1913, the doors and tunnels of what is now one of New York City’s most venerated landmarks opened to the public. Grand Central Terminal heralded a new era in transportation for the city, one powered by electricity instead of steam, and driven by carefully designed pedestrian flows and efficient boarding systems. The grandeur of this feat of civil engineering was matched by its architecture — its striking Beaux Arts facade, soaring main concourse, the grand balconies and ramps guiding passengers in and out, the celestial ceiling — and its impact on the surrounding city.

In 2013, Grand Central Terminal will celebrate its centennial with a year-long series of events, exhibitions, performances, artistic installations and projects to honor the building’s legacy and imagine its future. As part of that celebration, the Architectural League and the New York Transit Museum partnered to host a drawing competition for architects and designers to capture or re-imagine the New York City landmark. The winners, on view below, are featured in a special edition Moleskine sketchbook alongside historic material from the Transit Museum’s collection.

For more information about the exhibition of this work at the Transit Museum, click here.

“The winning work illustrates the variety of ways architects draw and, perhaps more importantly, the many ways they experience and represent place,” says Anne Rieselbach, the League’s program director and member of the competition jury. “The work conveys the grandeur of Grand Central Terminal, revealing historic details suffused by light streaming from the windows and reflecting from the marble surfaces. Some of the illustrations highlight the Terminal’s architectural complexity, with its almost Piranesian layering of space, yielding overlapping levels and volumes. A number of drawings capture the constant movement around, inside, and below the Terminal — commuters and visitors, as well as underlying trains — either literally or more abstractly tracing their paths.”

The jury — comprised of Dr. Jamshed Bharucha, Laurie Beckelman, John di Domenico, John Hartmann, Frank Lupo, Blake Middleton, Anne Rieselbach, Gabrielle Shubert, and Michael Webb — was tasked with selecting 20 sketches from a pool of 109 entries that ranged from the whimsical to the diagrammatic, from charcoal drawings to computer-generated fantasies. Altogether, the sketchbook forms a collective portrait of the iconic building and, as New York Transit Museum Director Gabrielle Shubert writes in her introduction to the book, is “evidence of the power of the past to awaken us to our future.”

The special edition Moleskine Grand Central Terminal sketchbook is now on sale at the Transit Museum Store in Grand Central Terminal (42nd Street and Park Avenue, Shuttle Passage), at the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn (Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street), and online at the Transit Museum Store.


The Winning Entries:


Beverly Borg


Carol Hsiung


Christine Zavesky


Only within the environs of Grand Central and in the station itself does the Futurist Group’s dream of a multi level city come to pass. The ramps crossing each other at different levels, Park Avenue almost daring to run right through the concourse at high level… the station, in spite of its banal Beaux Arts architecture is extraordinary because of its circulation.


So I must confess I was looking for vindication, for a sense in the drawings submitted that others had found the circulation to be a dominant factor as well. And I found it in Sarah Mark’s beautiful drawing reminiscent of a medical illustration marking the pattern of arteries and veins in the human body. Could the linework representing the walls and floors of the building be suppressed further to allow the ganglia to stand out even more? Should the projection used have been an isometric to allow the three dimensionality of the areas to be more apparent? Then we had Edgar Papazian with his Piranesi-seen-from-above drawing. Too few incarcerated commuters maybe, but magnificent nevertheless!”


-Michael Webb, Professor, Cooper Union, and original member, Archigram

Edgar Papazian


Eriko Kawamura


Hany Hassan


Jacqueline Lavin


“Drawing is the way I make my thoughts tangible.  I brought to the jury an interest in having the drawings perform, not only an aesthetic task, but also an investigative uncovering.  I was looking for drawings that revealed new truths and vantage points within the terminal.”


-John Hartmann, Co-Founder, Freecell

Jeff DiCicco


Kurt Ofer


Mercedes Cuvi


“Grand Central Terminal is an iconic hub and meeting place in the city. Drawing it provides insight as to why it is so important to us as New Yorkers and why it is an important element in the fabric of the city.


I design spaces for transportation in cities. Buildings like GCT are both remarkable people movement machines and beautiful urban artifacts. From my perspective the images selected illustrated the these two characteristics. Some portrayed the terminal as a grand network of people in motion while others captured its space as an elegant vessel for those arriving and leaving the city.”


-John di Domenico, Partner, di Domenico + Partners

Nicholas Venezia


Petra Kempf


Rodrigo Garcia Fernandez


Sarah Mark


“In writing a book about Grand Central, we’d focused so much on the building’s history, I really wanted to see how Grand Central inspires today’s architects and designers. And I’m a sucker for sheer beauty. I thought the sketchbook should be filled with images people would want to look at again and again. I was amazed by the creativity of the artists who submitted — how this grand old building could inspire so many fanciful and delightful renderings from a highly skilled and creative group.”


-Gabrielle Shubert, Director, New York Transit Museum

Stephanie Jazmines

Steve Socha


Syreeta Brooks


Thomas Sheridan


Tyler Survant, Leticia Wouk Almino, & Kyle Stover


Zach Downey


Beverly Borg, Hastings-on Hudson, NY
Syreeta Brooks, Piscataway, NJ
Mercedes Cuvi, Ithaca, NY
Jeff DiCicco, Santa Monica, CA
Zachary Downey, Brooklyn, NY
Rodrigo Garcia Fernandez, Montevideo, Uruguay
Hany Hassan, Washington, DC
Carol Hsiung, Millburn, NJ
Stephanie Jazmines, Brooklyn, NY
Petra Kempf, Brooklyn, NY
Eriko Kawamura, New York, NY
Jacqueline Lavin, South Huntington, NY
Sarah Mark, Somerville, MA
Kurt Ofer, Cooperstown, NY
Edgar Papazian, Great Neck, NY
Thomas Sheridan, Brooklyn, NY
Steve Socha, Toronto, ON, Canada
Tyler Survant, Leticia Wouk Almino, & Kyle Stover, Brooklyn, NY
Nicholas Venezia, Piscataway, NJ
Christine Zavesky, Miami, FL