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Times Square Transformation Pt. II

September 28, 2011

Snøhetta recently unveiled their design for the latest pedestrian-friendly Times Square, which I blogged about last July (Times Square Transformation).  While the simple design may seem a bit “underwhelming” coming from the designers of the spectacular Oslo Opera House and Alexandria Library, the firm presented a smart and appropriate plan for Times Square.  The raised darker pavers on Broadway (between 42nd-47th Streets) denote the pedestrian area from the vehicles.  Striated benches throughout the plaza give a nod to old traffic directions and help to separate gawking tourists from Midtown commuters.  The most pizzazz involved in the design are coin-sized reflectors in the stone pavers.  The intention was to not compete with the spectacle but to focus on creating a safe communal gathering plaza.  The construction will also include repairing infrastructure below Broadway, such as an old trolley track.

My first reaction was that any firm could have designed this proposal.  If this is all there is to it, why did a high-profile firm get to design it?  Give an up-and-coming firm a chance.  However, I realized that maybe a firm like Snøhetta is one of a few who aren’t compelled to make a splashy statement.  It is rather bold of them to come out with a no-frills plaza.  A lesser-known studio might have felt the pressure to over-design the space in order to “prove” their ability.  The glitz of Times Square is a tempting snare, but a confident firm like Snøhetta can resist the urge to add to the spectacle.  They created public space for consuming the spectacle.

While these are the first renderings the public has seen, there will be more meetings with city officials before the design is finalized.  Construction is slated to begin Fall 2012.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 29, 2011 12:45 am

    I wouldn’t be surprised if budget concerns, and working with a more conservative client such as NYC’s DOT also lead to a much more subdued final design. Seeing as how the NY State government is still in the middle of a debt crisis, I imagine the budget allotted for public works projects has greatly diminished in this post 2008 era. Based upon a presentation made by the DOT’s Director of Special Projects in 2009 to Julia Czerniak’s Fall Shrinking Cities studio, it was disclosed that the painted sections along Broadway were done so as a holding strategy to test the feasibility of restricting automobile traffic before a more permanent modification was implemented. During that lecture I was under the impression that the final design was not intended to be far more extravagant than the green paint which occupies the site now.

    Thanks for updating us on the status of this project!

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