Theses Master's

The Commuter's Cathedral: An Examination of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station

Taylor, Michelle A.

Commissioned in 1959 by the Port of Authority New York and New Jersey, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station provided a much needed commuter transportation hub for residents living in the suburbs of Northern New Jersey since its opening in 1963. Located in the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan, the Bus Station is an architectural and structural gem designed by the celebrated Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979). In the nearly fifty years since its completion, the Bus Station has received a combination of praise and derision.

Despite its pedigree and important role in the greater tri-state area, a full examination of its history, aesthetic, form and function has never been completed. This thesis contextualizes the Bus Station as part of a larger project to improve and overhaul the transportation infrastructure across the greater New York metropolitan area. It is an examination that explores the cultural, demographic and transportation shifts and developments on both sides of the Hudson River throughout much of the twentieth century. Along with an analysis of the Bus Station, this thesis explores how the philosophy and approach of Pier Luigi Nervi merged with the needs, politics and wants of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Furthermore, the George Washington Bridge Bus Station is recognized for its intricately crafted reinforced concrete forms, signature details by the great Italian "master-builder." Yet, unlike many of his barrel-vaulted domes and expansive exhibition spaces, Nervi utilized a distinct multi-peak roofline for the George Washington Bridge Bus Station. This research examines construction and significance of one of Nervi's earliest American projects within the continuum of Nervi's career and the context of an aesthetic expression of engineering. The George Washington Bridge Bus Station is a distinct structure not just within New York, but within the greater scope of all of Nervi's work.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Prudon, Theodore
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2012