4. Designs for the Pan Am Building would have replaced Grand Central entirely
In the 1950s, some architects planned skyscrapers that would have demolished the terminal altogether. While architects had envisioned that Grand Central would be the base of a massive skyscraper, two plans for the replacement of the terminal stood out. Fellheimer & Wagner designed a plan for a 55-story building that would have been the largest office building in the world. I.M. Pei, the architect behind the Louvre Pyramid and Roosevelt Field on Long Island, planned a futuristic 80-story, 5-million-square-foot tower that would have stripped the Empire State Building of its title of the world’s tallest building. Both proposals were poorly received, though, and neither was ultimately carried out.
To construct Pei’s tower, known as the Hyperboloid, the Terminal would have been knocked down, as Grand Central‘s profits declined considerably. Architectural Record stated that “its facade was crisscrossed by structural supports; overall the building resembled a bundle of sticks. At the base of Pei’s building, and again in its upper levels, the floors were left open and the structure was left exposed.” Although Pei’s design was not carried out and the Pan Am Building was constructed a few years later, Grand Central was under fire just a few years later. New York Central was planning to build a skyscraper surmounting the waiting room of Grand Central Terminal, and the following year, a more detailed plan by architect Marcel Breuer was put forward. Breuer had planned for a 55-story concrete building atop the terminal, turning the 42nd Street entrance into a lobby.