This Valentine’s Day, Times Square will boast a sculptural showcase of love by Manhattan-based firm Reddymade. Last night, Times Square Arts and AIA New York announced the female-led studio as the winner of the eleventh annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition. Starting February 1, 2019, Father Duffy Square will be home to X, a glowing aluminum structure evoking interpersonal and civic love.
The invite-only competition was curated by AIA New York, who held an exhibition opening yesterday at the Center for Architecture to showcase the work of the eight finalists, all emerging firms in the city. Tim Tompkins, president of Times Square Arts, said the framework for the project was simple. Firms were asked to explore, in physical form, the meaning of American philosopher Dr. Cornel West’s famous quote: “Justice is what love looks like in public. Tenderness is what love feels like in private.”
According to Tompkins, Reddymade’s winning proposal symbolizes several thematic concepts that drew the jury to choose it. “One of the things we’ve learned over the years about public art in Times Square is that ideally it should operate on many different levels and have a multitude of meanings,” Tompkins said. “X alludes to Times Square as an X-shaped intersection. It’s also the symbol of a kiss and a nod to the neighborhood’s XXX history. Most relevant today, it’s the mark we make to vote, representing democracy and freedom of choice for the individual.”
Suchi Reddy, founder and principal of Reddymade, said the focus on justice, diversity, and equality has been top of mind for her firm for several years, so the competition brief spoke to her in particular. “I think this was a really intelligent brief and we wanted to create a tectonic expression that inherently responded to something,” she said. “We love the idea of form following feeling, so we felt very strongly about creating a space people could inhabit and bring their energy to.”
X is the largest installation the competition has selected to date. It features two intersecting aluminum planes with rounded openings at the crossing where, when viewed from different angles, appears heart-shaped. At 18 feet tall, people will be able to walk underneath the sculpture. As more people gather, a glowing light will illuminate from the structure, growing brighter as an expression of the power of community and love.
Reddymade’s winning proposal, along with the other invited finalists—Agency Agency, Buro Koray Duman, Isometric Studio, N H D M, Only If Architecture, Splice Design, and STUDIO 397—were on view at the Center for Architecture through November 2, 2018. This was the competition’s first ever exhibition, further democratizing the public engagement process and shining a light on the other design teams and their vision for Times Square.
“There’s always a real struggle in picking out a winning design,” said Tompkins. “We recognize many firms spend time submitting proposals in competitions like this even though they’re invited, so one of the ways they get a return on that investment is having their great work be seen in a space like this.”