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New York: plans to erect giant Penn 15 skyscraper raise eyebrows 

Eyebrows have been raised over a proposal for a huge skyscraper in New York City, called Penn 15 and comparable in size to the Empire State Building.

Andrew Cuomo, New York’s governor, hopes to erect Penn 15 as part of a plan to redevelop midtown Manhattan and improve the city’s transport.

The 1,200ft building would include 27 landscaped terraces, according to the developer, Vornado Realty Trust, and 57 floors of office space.

Vornado describe Penn 15 as a “super-tall tower that will become the new standard for office design”, featuring “a unique side core design to allow for flexible office configurations and terraces on every fourth floor to maximize access to light and air”.

Penn 15 would thrust into the sky as one big part of a sprawling, 20m sq ft redevelopment.

Cuomo, who is embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal involving multiple women, hopes his Empire Station Complex plan will revamp the area around Penn Station, one of New York City’s busiest transport hubs. The governor has dubbed the plan a “21st-century transit complex on Manhattan’s West Side”.

The redevelopment would include 10 large-scale buildings, according to NBC4 New York, and would be completed by 2038.

Plans for Penn 15 hang on New York budget negotiations. Cuomo has been accused of attempting to railroad the state into allowing the development.

“This is a land grab from Andrew Cuomo, plain and simple,” Bill Neidhardt, press secretary for the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, said in a tweet. “The whole scheme relies on overriding city rules and Cuomo has refused to answer how he will finance this endeavor.”

Two members of Congress, Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, and a series of New York politicians sent a letter to Cuomo asking for a delay, the New York Post reported.

“We cannot have a plan for the area around Penn Station and not have a clear understanding, let alone agreement, on what happens to Penn Station,” the letter said. “We do not believe this process should be railroaded through in the budget or rushed into a hearing.”

Skyscrapers are notoriously phallic, architecture a notoriously male preserve. But even in New York, home to rows of what the author Leslie Kern recently called “upward-thrusting buildings ejaculating light into the night sky”, the Penn 15 name has prompted comment.

“Come on,” the New York City transit blog Second Ave Sagas wrote on Twitter. “They can’t actually call the building PENN 15. No way.”

Others suggested the name Penn 15 might be an April Fool’s prank, which it is not. The journalist Anna Sanders mused: “Men will spend millions building a skyscraper called PENN 15 instead of going to therapy smh.”

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