Redesigning Times Square
Anyone that lives or works in New York knows that we all do our best to avoid Times Square. It is nearly impossible to get around and there are Disney characters everywhere you turn. With new laws limiting the mobs of characters to designated areas, there is also a redesign to lessen the plight of pedestrians that has been underway since before Mayor De Blasio took office. Components of the redesign include, benches that are essentially generators without the noise, pedestrian-only spaces, the elimination of sidewalks and aesthetic and functional improvements.
Here are some of the highlights of the project:
Benching: As part of the redesign, new granite benches will be put in and connected to the city’s power grid. They will have the ability to provide power for the various types of shows that occur in Times Square, which is a great alternative to the way that these shows are currently powered. In the past, power sources would have to be hauled in using heavy machinery, causing years of damage to the area.
Pedestrian Plazas: The new pedestrian plazas are providing a clean, open area for people, both tourists and non-tourists, to walk and spend time in. The idea behind these pedestrian plazas is the to reduce street traffic and pollution and provide outdoor spaces that are clean and visually appealing. Bloomberg first presented this as a temporary trial period in 2009, calling it Green Light for Midtown. In 2010, when it had proved to be successful, it was announced that permanent changes would be made to the area, called the Bowtie because of its shape.
Accessibility of Storefronts: Since 2009, when this area was first closed to only pedestrians, storefronts have seen a 70% increase in business. This would make sense, as people are more likely to walk through Times Square if they think they will be able to get around without feeling trapped. With the elimination of sidewalks and street traffic, storefronts are more open to the public. Businesses have enjoyed the increase of foot traffic to their stores.
Aesthetic and Functional Improvements: Instead of the old beat-up looking sidewalks that the city had neglected to care for, there will be cement walkways with steel disks that reflect the light from the neon signs, spreading the light across the surface to create a unique glow. The drainage system had also deteriorated over the years and will be replaced in order to make for a cleaner environment.
Snøhetta, an architectural firm, was selected by the New York City Department of Design and Construction and the New York City Department of Transportation. They are the same architectural firm behind the September 11 Memorial Museum & Pavilion, which has been well-received among New Yorkers. The $55 Million project is set to be finished by December of 2016.