As one of the oldest and busiest landmarks in New York City, lets face it, Times Square needs a bit of sprucing up once in a while. Norwegian Architecture firm Snøhetta, hot off the success of their 9/11 Museum design, will continue to make their mark on the city by redesigning the Times Square pedestrian plazas to make them a permanent fixture. The $27 million preliminary plan was proposed to the Department of Transportation this week and was met with great positive feedback. The plan calls for the cementing of the plazas from 42nd to 47th Streets to create a uniform car-free space, and the curbs and sidewalks that exist now will be leveled into one continuous, flat area to make for easier and quicker walking.
Architect Craig Dykers and his team made sure the spirit of Times Square and history of New York were integral in the redesigning of the iconic space. Keeping things dark and gritty, the pedestrian area will consist of simple two-toned grey and black concrete alternated like a brick pattern to differentiate it from regular roadways. “It’s not taking its cues from pretty little things in Europe or something. It’s kind of like the heart of New York City. It’s a heavy, muscular, thing,” says Dykers.
To add pizazz to the plaza, some areas will include clusters of tiny nickel-sized stainless steel orbs within the concrete that reflect the flashing marquee lights that define Times Square. The new space will also include a number of steel benches in different lengths, heights, and sizes. The seating areas, made up of the same moveable red tables in the plazas now, aim to break up the massive pedestrian space and help divide meandering tourists from Midtown workers who normally dread trudging through the crowds.
Other improvements include restoration of many of the buildings’ infrastructures, some of which haven’t been touched in nearly 50 years. The restorations will simplify much of the plaza’s architecture and reduce the amount of equipment and clutter needed for public events. A new bike lane is also part of the redesign, which will help make cross-town commutes a breeze.
While the first proposal was a success, a few more rounds of approvals from city officials are needed, leaving Snøhetta with a potential construction start date of Fall 2012. The redesign is aimed to be completed and enjoyed by tourists and New Yorkers alike by 2014.