Starting later in the year, New York’s Time Square will undergo a significant refurbishment. The objective of the new design by Norwegian architecture practice Snøhetta (which has a $45 million budget) is to create an integrated, safe and iconic multifunctional public space that reflects the best spatial qualities of this key areas of the Big Apple.
The purpose of the reconstruction of Times Square is three-fold: to upgrade crucial infrastructure; to provide event infrastructure for new and expanded public events; and to make permanent the temporary improvements that the city piloted in 2009. The site, famous for being the home of Broadway musicals and theatres, is known as the ‘Bowtie’ and its physical boundaries are Broadway and 7th Avenue between 42nd and 47th Streets. Despite the impressive large-scale buildings and enormous advertising signs, Times Square’s public spaces are currently limited due to poor drainage, visual and physical clutter, and a general lack of cohesiveness. Snøhetta’s designs address these issues and create uncluttered pedestrian zones by consolidating both moveable and permanent sidewalk and street elements.
At ground level, a clear and simple layout was devised with the intention to create an anchor for the area while allowing the diverse commercial components of the square to shine above it. A primary directional design element along the Broadway Axis will define and frame the public plazas and serve as a magnet for visitors, an infrastructural spine for events, and a clear orientation device for tourists and locals alike. This axis will be reinforced by the alignment of benches and the design of the paving that will define smaller areas for gatherings within the larger place. The linear design is intended to organise pedestrian flows; the paving and benches support this and introduce opportunities for smaller public events, either planned or spontaneous.
The project includes the design of pedestrian lighting, paving, and seating opportunities; an event infrastructure system that will eliminate the need for temporary power cables, diesel generators, sound and broadcast equipment; the incorporation of a bike lane and bike parking; overall grading and drainage; rehabilitation/reconstruction of sewer and water mains; and upgrading of street lighting and traffic signals. The design team is dedicated to using materials and resources efficiently. Local, recycled and durable materials will be considered for all aspects of the design to ensure optimized performance, minimal environmental impact and extended lifespan.