2017 Merit Award

Times Square Reconstruction

Category: General Design

Landscape Architect:

Snøhetta

www.snohetta.com

Project Team:

Broadcast Engineering: Bexel

Structural Engineering: BuroHappold Engineering

Civil Engineering, Traffic Engineering, Utilities: Thornton Tomasetti Weidlinger Transportation Practice

Security Engineering: Thornton Tomasetti Weidlinger Protective Design Practice

Landscape Architecture: Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects

Lighting Design: Arup/Leni Schwendinger Light Projects

Security Consulting: Ducibella Venter and Santore

MEP Engineering: Wesler Cohen

About the Project:

While Times Square has long been an icon for entertainment, culture and urban life, the physical and operational conditions of the streets had deteriorated over time. The project opens Broadway to pedestrian activity and public events between 42nd and 47th streets while streamlining vehicle traffic on 7th Avenue and integrating crucial utility and event infrastructure upgrades above and below grade. Five new plazas were designed to accommodate multiple speeds of pedestrian circulation with subtle design gestures that empower people to move in a natural, comfortable way through the space. With a significant positive impact on public safety, air quality, and economic output, the project has transformed Times Square into a world-class civic space at the heart of New York City.

Project Location: New York City

Special Factors

On average, 330,000 people move through Times Square every day. Understanding the magnitude of these crowds and patterns of movement was fundamental to creating a successful new life for one of the most iconic public spaces in the world. The site forms the heart of the Times Square theater district, and situated between Port Authority Bus Terminal on the west and Grand Central Station on the east, it functions as one of the key gateways to NYC. The new design creates a unified ground plane from building front to building front, strategically consolidating “street clutter” or outmoded and redundant infrastructure. Ten fifty-foot long granite benches oriented along the Broadway Axis define and frame the area’s public plazas. These benches manage pedestrian flow, creating interior pockets or eddies for people to stop and gather. Simultaneously, this allows for continuous thoroughfares on either side of the benches for quicker foot traffic. New power and broadcast infrastructure embedded in the benches eliminate the need for of diesel generators, temporary power cables, and broadcast equipment, enabling swift and efficient set-up and break down of the over 350 public events that place in the Square annually.

Doubling the amount of pedestrian space in the site, the project’s impact on public health and safety improvements are evident, as pedestrian injuries in Times Square have declined by 40%, traffic signal compliance has increased by as much as 43%, and overall crime has decreased by 20% since 2009. Further, the plazas and simplified intersections have reduced air pollution in the Times Square area by 60% since Broadway was closed to car traffic. Transforming a dangerously congested intersection into vibrant public space at the heart of NYC, the Reconstruction provides a model for how generous public space can have a significant impact on the neighborhood, city, and regional scale.