snøhetta has completed the redesign of new york’s famed times square, doubling its amount of public space. what was previously a congested vehicular district has been transformed into a 2.5 acre civic space at the heart of manhattan. nicknamed the ‘crossroads of the world’, the site attracts 45 million visitors each year, making it the most visited destination in the united states.

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
all images © michael grimm

 

 

sections of broadway have been closed to traffic since 2009, a move intended to promote pedestrian use. snøhetta’s design for the permanent pedestrian plaza removed the site’s cluttered infrastructure, creating a unified ground plane from building front to building front. at the heart of the scheme, ten 50 foot long granite benches have been positioned to allow pedestrians to move through, and occupy, the area more comfortably.

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
the transformation doubles times square’s amount of public space

 

 

known as the ‘bowtie’, the project site sits at the center of the times square theater district, and is bounded by broadway and 7th avenue between 42nd and 47th streets. the first section of snøhetta’s pedestrian street opened in spring 2014. since then, pedestrian injuries have decreased by 40%, vehicular accidents have decreased by 15%, and overall crime in the area has decreased 20%. it is also believed that air pollution has fallen by as much as 60%.

snohetta times square pedestrian plazalong granite benches define and frame the public plaza

 

 

as an average of 330,000 people move through times square every day, understanding the nature and scale of the crowds — as well as their patterns of movement — was perhaps the most important aspect of the project. in response, the new plaza has been designed to accommodate multiple speeds of pedestrian circulation with subtle design gestures that allow people to move in natural ways through the space. 

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
new power and broadcast infrastructure has been embedded within the benches

 

 

conceived as an ‘outdoor room’, the scheme’s uncluttered pedestrian zones and cohesive surfaces establish the site as a stage in its own right. the ground plane is made of pre-cast two-toned concrete pavers, which have been embedded with small steel discs that capture and reflect the glow from the signs above.

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
the scheme’s uncluttered nature establishes the site as a stage in its own right

 

 

long granite benches oriented along the broadway axis define and frame the public plaza. in addition, new power and broadcast infrastructure has been embedded within the benches. this eliminates the need for of diesel generators, temporary power cables, and broadcast equipment, all of which are required for the more than 350 public events that place in the square each year.

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
small steel discs capture and reflect the neon glow from the signs above

 

 

‘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,’ says craig dykers, architect and founding partner of snøhetta.

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
the ground surface is made of pre-cast two-toned concrete pavers

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
an average of 330,000 people move through times square every day

snohetta times square pedestrian plaza
the site is bounded by broadway and 7th avenue between 42nd and 47th streets

 

 

project info:

 

architecture and landscape design: snøhetta
broadcast engineering: bexel
structural engineering: buro happold
security consulting: ducibella venter and santore
lighting design: arup / leni schwendinger light projects
landscape architecture: mathews nielsen landscape architects
security design review: rogers marvel architects
civil engineering, traffic engineering, utilities: thornton tomasetti weidlinger transportation practice
security engineering: thornton tomasetti weidlinger security engineering practice
MEP engineering: wesler cohen

 

total area of the ‘bowtie’: 5.18 acres
total area of public space in times square after the reconstruction: 148,442 sqf / 13,790 sqm
percentage of public space in TSQ before the reconstruction: 37% public space for pedestrians
percentage of public space after reconstruction: 66% public space for pedestrians
construction budget: $55 million USD (includes below ground utility upgrades)

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