New York’s Times Square plaza will be transformed by designers Brad Ascalon, Joe Doucet, Louis Lim, DYAD and Hive Public Space this May. Organized by the Times Square Alliance, the designers’ solutions rethink the street furniture of one of the world’s most visible public spaces. The collection includes conceptual designs for seating, signage, and book display. Furniture designer Brad Ascalon designs an "island" that incorporates planters, seating and storage. Product designer Joe Doucet envisions colorful pods that organize the interactions of people in the public space. Urban design and placemaking consultancy Hive Public Space combines a bookcase with a bench, echoing the Strand Bookstore nearby. DYAD, led by designer Douglas Fanning, formulates an eye-catching sign holder resembling a kick-boxing stand, and Louis Lim designs a teardrop-shaped, touch-responsive signage system. “Times Square asked great New York City designers to build on permanent transformations such as the red steps and the pedestrian plazas, and temporary transformations through design and public art,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, and the organizer of local events. The pieces will be revealed on the plaza together with the opening of the Design Pavilion during NYCxDesign. They are curated by Times Square Design Lab (TSqDL), which is a collaboration between 6¢ Design, a think tank led by Principal Victoria Milne, and the Times Square Alliance. NYCxDesign is an annual event that celebrates local and worldwide design talents and will take place between May 11 and 23 this year.
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Artist Mel Chin is bringing two new installations to Times Square’s Broadway plazas this summer. Wake and Unmoored are part of Mel Chin: All Over the Place, a multi-location exhibition produced by the Queens Museum and the public art nonprofit No Longer Empty. Other locations involved with the citywide exhibition are the Queens Museum and the Broadway–Lafayette/Bleeker Street subway station, which is hosting a May 13 rededication for Signals, Chin’s permanent installation at the station. Wake is a 24-foot-tall installation crafted by Mel Chin to resemble a shipwreck intertwined with the skeleton of a marine mammal. Adjacent to the shipwreck will be a 21-foot-tall sculpture based off of a figurehead of 19th-century opera singer, Jenny Lind. This project is being fabricated by the UNC Asheville's STEAM Studio. A celebrity during her career, Lind was also a figurehead for the USS Nightingale, a mercantile clipper involved in the trade of guns and slaves. Chin views Lind’s inclusion in the piece as means to pull back the complicated, and often controversial, factors that led to New York City’s rise. According to Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance that partnered with the producers on the project, Wake serves as bridge to Unmoored. In collaboration with Microsoft, Unmoored is a mixed reality experience revealing a speculative vision of a world where global warming goes unchecked. Unmoored’s augmented reality section will extend from 45th to 47th Street, and will be viewable through cell phones and tablets. Times Square Arts commissioned these installations, which will be on view at the Broadway plazasbetween the cross streets above at Broadway/7th Avenue beginning July 11. In a statement to the The New York Times, Chin describes Wake coming alive through digital interaction, such as the sculpture of Jenny Lind “who will sigh and raise her head to the heavens," as Times Square floods around her. All Over the Place began at the Queens Museum on April 8. The museum’s portion of the exhibition is the first survey of the artist’s work by a New York City institution. In total, the survey contains over seventy works spanning Chin’s four-decade artistic career, including paintings, sculptures and videos. Additionally, two newly commissioned projects, Flint Fit and Soundtrack, are found at the Queens location. Curators Laura Raicovich, the Queens Museum's former president and executive director, and Manon Slome, No Longer Empty's co-founder and chief curator, describe All Over the Place as a city-wide celebration of Chin’s work and his ability to deliver “provocative and profound investigations of the ways in which we live, our socio-economic contexts, our relationship to our surrounding environments, how power skews the scales, and how poetry can intervene, to a broad public.” Wake and Unmoored will stand in Times Square until September 5, 2018. More information about the exhibition can be found here.
When architects Aranda\Lasch and computational designer Marcelo Coelho were planning their entry to the Times Square Alliance and Design Trust for Public Space’s 10th Annual Times Square Valentine Heart Design Competition, they took a trip to the area. After observing thousands of visitors taking nonstop snapshots and selfies, it became clear that they would create an homage to screens, lenses, and our image-saturated society. The result was Window to the Heart, aka The Lens, a round, heart-centered sculpture that graced the north end of Times Square (between 46th and 47th Streets) throughout February. With The Lens, Aranda\Lasch and Coelho not only alluded to the area’s self-referential environment, but they created the world’s largest Fresnel lens—the flattened, ridged lenses you often see in lighthouses that recreate the effect of a much larger lens—measuring 12 feet, 2 inches in diameter, 10 feet tall, and weighing over two tons. “Look around,” said Benjamin Aranda at the sculpture’s opening. “Everyone’s taking pictures right now. It never stops.” His colleague Joaquin Bonifaz added: “To be in Times Square means you’re seeing or being seen through a lens.” How did they pull this off? In many stages, in many locations, with many partners: First the team modeled the project in Rhinoceros and Neon with Long Island City-based Laufs Engineering Design. Then, with Formlabs in Boston, they 3-D printed 1,090 sawtooth resin tiles, utilizing Form 2 printers, working in tandem, for two weeks. Then, together with Brooklyn-based Caliper Studio, they fabricated the tiles, which were back coated with silicon and attached in 98 concentric rings on top of a clear, flat acrylic core, which had been trucked in from Reynolds Polymer in Colorado. Caliper fabricated the structure’s massive steel base, and the composition was then attached to the base and carefully transported it, with Yonkers-based 24/7 lifting, to Times Square. The result was a mesmerizing piece, which abstracted, amplified, and bent the crazy, colorful lights and images of Times Square. The piece was best seen from afar, where clearer images related to ideal focal lengths. The piece’s central, cutout heart was a tough sell for the team, who, like most designers, are more interested in abstraction than literal forms. But the results spoke for themselves, as visitors lined up to take pictures of, and with the sculpture, most of them poking their heads through its heart. “People get it immediately,” Aranda said. “They’re capturing it, they’re filtering it, they’re sharing it.” Resources:
Marcelo Coelho cmarcelo.com
Laufs Engineering Design laufsed.com
Reynolds Polymer reynoldspolymer.com
The first photos have been released of the renovated cafeteria at 4 Times Square, originally designed by Frank Gehry for Condé Nast, and the redesign appears to have thoroughly modernized the space. The 260-seat cafeteria, the Los Angeles-based architect's first project in New York City, was intended to be an exclusive gathering place for Condé Nast employees. Completed in 2000, Gehry’s curves are prominently displayed throughout the room, from the 12-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide billowing glass partitions hung from the ceiling to the twisting grey titanium columns at the edge of the cafeteria. Even the seating reflected the overall design ethos, as rows of orange leather seating undulated alongside the partitions and handrails. With Condé Nast’s exit from the Durst Organization-owned 4 Times Square in 2015, questions swirled over the ultimate fate of the cafeteria. Now, the Durst Organization has announced that the cafeteria will be the centerpiece of a 45,600-square-foot amenity floor accessible to all of the building’s tenants. The entire floor’s renovation was handled by local firm STUDIOS Architecture, and the end result is a total transformation of Gehry’s cafeteria that still keeps the fundamental curves in place. The titanium paneling on the walls and ceiling have been painted white, the floors and accents have been replaced with American white oak planks, and the chrome pendant lights have been stripped out. The bright seating has been reupholstered in hues of beige, and the yellow-topped tables have been replaced with white alternatives. The end result is more IAC Building than Disney Concert Hall, and STUDIOS has definitely succeeded in bringing more light into the space. The redesign marks the launch of the Durst Organization’s Well& amenity brand across all of their properties, with this floor at 4 Times Square as their first location. Accessible from the cafeteria is the new “Garden Room,” a circular bar area that features a 106-foot-long, floor-to-ceiling wraparound green wall designed by Blondie’s Treehouse. The southern side of the floor has been leased to Convene, a flexible meeting and workspace management company. The meeting and event spaces on the Convene side can hold up to 480 people, and the look, handled by their in-house design team, skews towards darker wood paneling and tile flooring. The $35 million renovation of the amenity floor is just one part of Durst’s recent $135 million modernization effort at 4 Times Square, which includes new entrances, elevator cabs, and a full lobby and reception renewal.
Richard Weinstein, an architect whose contributions helped to rethink traditional zoning and urban planning in both New York and Los Angeles, passed on February 24 at the age of 85 from complications related to Parkinson’s disease. Weinstein, a proponent of public-minded urban planning, was known for crafting zoning regulations that were specific to the context of individual neighborhoods rather than conform to a universal template. Weinstein began his academic career in the field of psychology, receiving his B.A from Brown University and an M.A from Columbia. As reported by the New York Times, Weinstein’s professional tenure as a psychologist based in Washington D.C exposed him to the works of Frank Lloyd Wright that dot the capital’s landscape. Spurred by this exposure, Weinstein enrolled in Harvard’s architecture program but ultimately transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his master’s in 1960. The architect’s planning career began following John V. Lindsay’s successful campaign for mayor in 1965. Under the Lindsay administration, Weinstein served as the director of the Office of Planning and Development for Lower Manhattan and was a founding member of the Urban Design Group, a revolutionary body that embedded architects and planners within city governance and decision-making. With the authority of the mayor’s office, the Urban Design Group negotiated directly with the development community to guide New York towards an inclusive and pluralist policy of urban design. Prior to his involvement with the Lindsay administration, Weinstein worked for the firms of Edward Larrabee Barnes and I.M Pei. Weinstein’s approach to planning is described by UCLA as grounded in the belief that “the city’s mandate was to preserve and enrich the life of the public and cultural street as the city grew taller with private investment,” increased tax revenue was not to be considered a valid exchange for building variances. While working for the Lindsay administration, Weinstein was crucial in the protection of Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, Cass Gilbert’s United States Custom House, and pushed for the creation, and expansion, of the Times Square Historic District. His knowledge of New York's complex system of air rights facilitated economic self-sufficiency for the city's landmarks and simultaneously guided development along predetermined channels Weinstein took up the post of dean of UCLA’s Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Planning in 1985, a post he held until 1994. He remained at UCLA as a professor of architecture and urban design until 2008. There, his influence on a generation of architects was immeasurable. As Thom Mayne, founder and principal of Morphosis, and a professor of architecture at UCLA, stated, "Richard saw architecture/urbanism as a noble profession with immeasurable potential to shape everyday life, inextricably linked to its social, political and cultural circumstance. We often discussed the seemingly unknowable nature of our profession which only propelled us to stubbornly attempt to achieve the impossible — in every project.” Weinstein is survived by his wife, Edina, and two sons – Nikolas and Alexander.
Times Square can leave your head spinning at the best of times, but come the final minutes of each day this month, visitors can witness a psychedelic show on the square's famous advertising boards. Known as Convolution Weave~Lattice Domain and created by MSHR—a collaborative composed of Portland, Oregon–based artists Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy—the work is a highly colorful virtual landscape of spinning objects. The complex sculptures represent objects that would be impossible to create in reality, as well as more conventional forms, that creating dazzling patterns. "We construct hypershapes that reflect consciousness, just as the content in Times Square reflects the psychic structure of our culture. There are many possible shapes of reality," MSHR said in a press release. "We aim to warp the frayed edges of this media node, minding the intentions behind mental influence through imagery. Our intention is to inject the light stream with objects sculpted for presence of mind." The installation is part of the Midnight Moment, a monthly showing provided by The Times Square Advertising Coalition and presented in partnership with Upfor Gallery and Times Square Arts. Convolution Weave~Lattice Domain can be viewed from 11:57 p.m.-midnight every night this August. Despite hailing from the West Coast, more of MSHR's work can be found in New York—in particular, Queens, where Cooper and Murphy's art is featured in the Past Skin exhibition at MoMA PS1 where it is on view through September 10, 2017.
When a car plowed through the ever-busy Times Square in Midtown Manhattan on Thursday, 22 people were injured and one was killed. However, things could have been much worse. The security bollards in the Snøhetta-design pedestrian plaza held strong and stopped the driver, Richard Rojas, from killing and injuring more people. His car came to a stop on two wheels, after being wedged upward by a 3-foot-tall bollard, manufactured by Calpipe Security Bollards and installed last fall as part of the plaza redesign. In response Craig Dykers, Founding Partner at Snøhetta, released the following statement:
Times Square is one of the densest and most visited places in New York and the world. One of the key challenges of transforming this congested vehicular district into a place for people was making Times Square more comfortable and natural to walk through, while securing it against unpredictable tragedies like the one that took place in the Square yesterday. We offer our sincerest condolences to the family of the victim and we wish a healthy recovery to the injured and those affected. In our work to make permanent the pedestrian plazas in Times Square, we managed a successful collaborative process with the city and specialized consultants to be sure pedestrians would be safe in the Crossroads of the World. Our method has been to protect the plaza areas while also using design elements that don’t overwhelm the public experience. We wanted to be sure safety measures did not define the public space while also creating highly effective protective features in the most populated areas. Bollards, in connection with other integrated security features, form the basis of the security design for the plaza. These elements allow for fluid and intuitive circulation between the plazas. This was a fundamental concept of the redesign as a whole, which focused on reducing visual and physical clutter and confusion in the Square, creating a simplified surface that allows people to move comfortably and naturally through the space. Without these considerations more people would have been affected by this tragedy so we are grateful to everyone on the team for designing these preventative measures. We will continue to analyze the character of this event alongside our partners connected to this work to further minimize the impact of any future situations without interfering with the open, vibrant and unique character of Times Square.
Van Alen to host public conversation on immigration between New Yorkers and visitors in Times Square
Compared to the online comments section—that domain of the keyboard warrior and the realm of dumb trolls—public, in-person conversations are still the gold standard for constructive dialogue, because it's harder to be rude to someone when you're staring right at them. That's why, to combat toxic discourse, the Van Alen Institute and Times Square Alliance are hosting a friendly discussion series on hot-button issues in the middle of New York's busiest public space. Crossroads Conversations pairs perfect strangers to talk—without animus—about the divisive topics that dominate the headlines. This evening, in front of the Red Steps in Times Square, New Yorkers and visitors passing through the "Crossroads of the World” will be matched up for one-on-one conversations about immigration, facilitated by journalists. Participants at tonight's discussion will be speaking with Quartz's design reporter Anne Quito and The Architect's Newspaper's very own associate editor, Audrey Wachs. Rather than digging into the nitty-gritty of the border wall RFP or Presidents Trump's travel ban, the 10-minute conversations are meant to reveal personal stories, inspire sharing, and find common ground within divergent viewpoints. Van Alen held a pilot Crossroads last December in response to the current political climate and the strong feelings it provokes on the Left and Right. Future conversations will center on health, sexuality, the environment, and infrastructure, and, to wrap up the series, Van Alen will aggregate key ideas from the conversations into “Word on the Street” reports that add another dimension to the issues of the day. Crossroads Conversations' first discussion runs tonight from 6–7 p.m. in front of the Red Steps. The talks are free and public—no RSVP required.
Artist Pipilotti Rist will break out of Times Square’s usual electronic billboard programming with her Open My Glade (Flatten), 2000-2017, which will be on display every night in January from 11:57-midnight. The programming is part of Midnight Moment, the longest-running digital art exhibition synchronized on electronic billboards throughout the famous intersection, curated by Times Square Advertising Coalition and Times Square Arts every month. In this month’s Midnight Moment, video artist Pipilotti Rist re-confronts the screens of Times Square in a new, multichannel edition of a work commissioned by the Public Art Fund in 2000, which originally appeared on a single screen in Times Square. In the 2017 edition, Rist surrounds the plazas of Times Square on multiple screens in vivid color, flattening her face against the glass as if to break through the screens completely. "The human being wants to transgress any screen and jump out onto the square," Rist said of her digital art piece. "She wants to jump out of her skin and melt with you." With her features humorously distorted and her makeup smeared, Rist addresses expectations of women in media while also questioning the invisible boundaries placed on women and their history, experiences, pains, and wishes, in ways that resonate just as strongly in 2017 as they did in 2000. “At a time when the larger political currents are making many women feel both the glass ceiling and the walls closing in on their bodies, this work resonates more than ever," said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance. This month’s Midnight Moment is presented in partnership with Rist’s Pixel Forest, on view at the New Museum through January 15.
Last week, in that languid time between Christmas and New Years', the City of New York celebrated the completion of a major public works project—not the Second Avenue subway, but an above-ground reconstruction of one of the world's busiest intersections. Almost eight years ago, the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) unveiled plans to dramatically transform Manhattan's Times Square. The $55 million vision, conceived by New York–based Snøhetta, replaced car-clogged streets with pedestrian plazas on Broadway in Times Square between West 42nd and West 47th streets. The project, which spans 85,000 square feet of former roadway, broke ground in 2013. Officials praised the improvements at a December 28 ceremony. “Being able to carve out two acres of new space for pedestrians in one of the world’s most popular plazas is a remarkable gift to the tens of millions of people who visit the ‘Crossroads of the World’ each year,” said Department of Design and Construction (DDC) commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora, in a statement. “Times Square is now equipped with more resilient sewer systems, wider sidewalks, ample seating, and an emphasis on pedestrian safety that will serve generations to come.” Changes to the "bowtie" were first spearheaded by former DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. Now tourists and New Yorkers (if there are any who go willingly) can enjoy new benches, chairs, and tables dotting the five plazas, wider sidewalks, as well as a raised bike lane along 7th Avenue. "With the changes unveiled today, Times Square is now a safer and more welcoming place for the millions of residents, commuters and tourists who visit and pass through it every day," Mayor Bill de Blasio emphasized. "I am so proud that our agencies could come together and finish their incredible work before the new year, ending the disruption that invariably comes with big and complex construction projects.”
Can you see yourself at Times Square this month? Running through November 21, visitors to Times Square in Manhattan will find The Beginning of the End. The reflective intervention comes from the Times Square Arts, Cuban Artists Fund, and Cuban artist Rachel Valdés Camejo and asks audiences to think about the relationship between an object and its surrounding space—Broadway Plaza between 46th and 47th Streets. Camejo’s first work in the U.S., The Beginning of the End sees the bright lights and razzmatazz of Times Square amplified through a corridor of mirrored surfaces. Visitors can walk through and glance down to see the sky at their feet along with the vibrant streetscape around them. Immersed within the new perspective of their surroundings, the audience is prompted to contemplate the way they view the vicinity. The Beginning of the End also works as a successful installation at night too. Despite not being able to walk on the sky, Camejo's installation encapsulates and reverberates the visual chaos of Times Square has to offer. Speaking in a press release, Camejo gave her thoughts on the installation:
For me it is wonderful to have this opportunity to present my work in a public space such as Times Square. It is certainly a place totally different from the environments where I have shown my installations before. My pieces always work according to the environment that concern them and in this case will be very different. I build objects to create dialogues between human beings, the object and space. So far the other environments in which I worked are quieter places, even places that become inhospitable, so to have my work this time in a place where so many people pass, and in a city like New York, it gives a whole other visual and conceptual possibility to my work.“This work pulls in the sky to draw it underneath your feet, wrapping Times Square completely around your body," said Times Square Arts Director, Sherry Dobbin. "The natural skyscape, the electronic billboards and the office buildings combine in a human kaleidoscope, in which each twist of your body brings about new perspectives.” Meanwhile, Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said, “Times Square has always been a reflection of America and ourselves. Ms. Camejo’s work allows the marvelous mix of people in Times Square to intersect in ever-new ways.”
Few New Yorkers would consider Times Square a place where they could lay down and stay awhile. But this could change come August 24: German artist and architect Jürgen Mayer H. has designed a public lounge, XXX TIMES SQUARE WITH LOVE, at the Broadway Pedestrian Plaza between 43rd and 44th Streets. The three bright pink loungers will sit four people apiece, allowing users to lay back and view Times Square from an entirely new perspective. Modeled after the “X” shaped intersection at Broadway and 7th Avenue, and inspired by Times Square’s rather nefarious history, they will be the first specially commissioned ongoing street furniture for the plaza. “Jürgen’s amazing design required the fabrication of comfortable, precise elements, that people could lay in, while being suitable for the Times Square environment. Durability and beauty go hand in hand and cannot be compromised,” Kevin Davey, principal, creative strategies of UAP North America, said in a press release. Mayer H. is well known for his architecture and installations, including other public urban works such as the Metropol Parasol in Seville, Spain, and the more recent KA300 Pavilion in Karlsruhe, Germany. XXX TIMES SQUARE WITH LOVE errs on the more playful side of the architect’s oeuvre and the benches are expected to add a new dimension to the Times Square experience. "Lying down on XXX allows for a completely different perception of Times Square and its media presence. The view goes vertical while you are broadcast via many of the public webcams of Times Square looking down on you,” Mayer H said in a press release. According to Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, photos of Times Square are posted to Instagram “no fewer than 17,000 times a day.” Naturally, XXX TIMES SQUARE WITH LOVE will have its own hashtag: #TSqXXX. The installation’s unveiling will take place on Wednesday, August 24, at 11:00 a.m. on the Broadway Pedestrian Plaza between 43rd and 44th Streets.