This Gorgeous Mess

Architecture and New York



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    How Square

    Nalina Oct 3 '11 0

    First they took away the funk, then they took away the street, and now they're taking away the interim urban plaza on Broadway between 42nd and 47th Streets.  Last week the New York City unveiled Snohetta's design to make the Times Square plaza a more permanent pedestrian space.  An initial rendering shows a sea of dark interlocking pavers that simply extend the sidewalk at the west side of Broadway, locating some clustered chairs, tables and benches along the edge of Sixth Avenue.

    What's great about the current scheme, developed and implemented under the leadership of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, is that it's so loosely designed.  It's just a giant patch of street painted blue and crowded with patio furniture.  During rush hours it can be a giant sidewalk, with people streaming through to get from one place to the next.  But at dusk the plaza is crammed with theater-goers waiting for showtime and tourists waiting for the nighttime spectacle of Times Square.  The whole scene is anchored around the TKTS booth, whose low, sloped roof lights up bright red and seats a few hundred people.  The Snohetta scheme turns this dynamic street scene into a giant sidewalk.  It tidies up the on-street theater, and squeezes out places to sit and watch.


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