Renovated Times Square by Snøhetta Opens Officially to the Public
Architecture firm Snøhetta’s renovated Times Square in New York opened on 19 April 2017. The project was handed to Snøhetta by the New York City Department of Design and Construction and the New York City Department of Transportation in 2010. The firm was required to re-design and landscape a total area of 5.18 acres at the heart of the Times Square theater district. The site is known as the “Bowtie”, forms, and it is bounded by Broadway and 7th Avenue between 42nd and 47th streets Midtown Manhattan.
The world-famous square, known for its theaters and digital billboards, is a major tourist attraction which receives an average of 45 million visitors per year. However, these massive amounts of visitors, on a frequent basis, have not impacted the square itself in a most positive way. “Although Times Square has remained popular over the years, its popularity over the years had made it somewhat unsafe, polluted and sometimes uninviting,” said Architect and Founding Partner of Snøhetta Craig Dykers. “To some people, it lost its authenticity.”
Snøhetta’s revamp of the square included doubling the pedestrian areas in the square by introducing five plazas between the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue with the crossing streets from 42nd to 47th, in addition to increasing the width of the sidewalks along 7th Avenue. They have covered the ground in “clear and simple” pre-cast concrete pavers to highlight the surrounding illuminated billboards. Theses pavers are embedded with Nickel-sized steel discs to reflect the glow of the neon from the billboards, creating a playful effect. They have, also, added ten 50-foot granite benches to make the square experience more comfortable and exciting for visitors.
Besides the additions, the designers have also removed some unneeded elements like excess traffic signals and trash cans to smooth the pedestrian flow. The firm has, also, approached the crucial infrastructure issues, turning the well-worn and congested Time Square into a “radically open civic square” and an attractive venue for public events.
“Conceived as a project whose success would be measured not only by its new aesthetic but also the long-term physical, psychological and economic benefits on its community, the reinvention of Times Square stands as a model for how the design of our urban landscapes can improve health and well-being of its users while providing an important stage for public gathering,” said Craig Dykers.