New York City's Times Square has lived through its fair share of incarnations, from the entertainment hub of the 1910s to the seedy den of vice in the '70s to the glittering photo-op that it is today. The Square has taken on a polarizing persona in the past couple decades, becoming the go-to destination for tourists looking to check another spot off the list; this comes much to the dismay of locals, who have seen the square lose much of its mid-century panache. A new plan for the redesign of Times Square looks to mesh these two perspectives in order to create a more harmonious balance between local and tourist.
The new $27 million redesign plan, which is headed for final approval by the city, would transform the beaten concrete plazas of Times Square into a sleek, ultramodern space. The new square, imagined by architectural firm, Snohetta, would feature a silver and grey motif complete with metallic tiles and large, block benches that would serve another important purpose: separating foot traffic into sightseer and pedestrian. The large slabs would divide the space into flowing walkways along the sides and an open plaza in the middle where slower traffic could congregate, meaning that all the camera-toting day-trippers would have a space to wander freely, without interfering with the usual bustle of the city.
“The comment that one hears almost all the time is that New Yorkers, for the most part, don’t really like to be in Times Square,” Craig Dykers, the principal architect at Snohetta, told the New York Times. He went on to say that ideally the new design would accomodate “different speeds at which people can move through Times Square.”
The current incarnation of the pedestrian plazas, which opened in 2009, features seemingly random beach chairs atop a splotchy blue paint job, almost reminiscent of a Roy Lichtenstein piece. The new plan aims to balance the flashy draw of Times Square with the streamlined aesthetic made popular by the High Line and other recent public projects. Many feel that the new design is headed in the right direction, including Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance and a consultant on the plan. Tompkins told the Times that the proposed plan's aim is to find a balance between the Square's primary uses, “It really tries to complement, rather than compete, with Times Square.”