New York’s Times Square is the top tourist attraction in the world according to Travel and Leisure magazine. But those familiar with the area might see it as more theme park than great urban space. A new proposal by Snøhetta that will remake the area’s pedestrian plazas promises to bring a more urbane sensibility to the Square that might play well with the locals.
Under the proposed design, which awaits city approval, the existing bright blue plaza will be resurfaced with two tones of dark concrete pavers arranged in an alternating brick pattern. Some sections would feature stainless steel ‘pucks’ about the size of a nickel that will jazz up the surface and reflect light off the surrounding marquees. In addition to pavement changes, numerous large slab benches of different lengths and sizes will be installed replacing the existing café tables and chairs. While the benches will provide seating they will function to ease congestion in the plaza, by dividing the space into a large central gathering area with dedicated walkways on the sides. The intention is to make the plaza safer and easier for people to get around.
Snøhetta’s Craig Dkyers, who presented the design to a Manhattan community board on Monday, said the redesign will make the plaza ‘simpler and flatter’ than what’s there now. And it will be designed to accommodate ‘different speeds at which people can move through Times Square’. The project, which is slated for completion in 2014, is an extension of an earlier effort launched in 2009 by the Bloomberg administration to ban cars from parts of Times Square and pedestrianize a six-block section of Broadway from 42nd to 47th. The success of that project led to the decision to make the area a permanent pedestrian way.