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.”
Posts tagged with "Times Square":
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.
Every night at midnight (or 11:57pm to be precise) for the month of June, Times Square’s fantastic array of video screens will stop blasting advertisements for luxury watches and television shows to display a three-minute short film by multimedia artist Saya Woolfalk. The film, titled Chimacloud, is made up of short digital videos from Woolfalk's ongoing project called ChimaTEK. Chimacloud found its way to Times Squareas part of the Midnight Moment series sponsored by Times Square Arts, which features a new show every month (Chimacloud will be on view through June 30). Past contributors include Yoko Ono, Bjork, and Laurie Anderson. Those who find themselves in Times Square at midnight can see one of these short visual art pieces or experimental films every night of the week. ChimaTEK and two of Woolfalk’s past multimedia projects center around the "Empathics," a fictional society of women who can change their genetics and meld with plants. Woolfalk’s work is filled with bright, kaleidoscopic visuals and deals with themes of hybridity, race, and sex. She has been featured in galleries and museums across the United States, including MOMA PS1. Check out the video below to see a previous Midnight Moment by Rafael Rozendaal:
In Times Square, art and architecture converge during the last week of Collective–LOK's Heart of Hearts installation
Every winter, the Times Square Alliance and the Center for Architecture choose a team of architects to design an installation for Times Square that a) has to both dialogue and compete with the pageantry of Times Square and b) is heart-themed for Valentine's Day. AN visited this year's Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition winner, Collective-LOK's Heart of Hearts, during its final week to speak with the architects and an artist/composer duo who created an interactive sound and visual piece within the installation. Formally, Heart of Hearts is a circle of aluminum–paneled hearts planted in the center of Father Duffy Square, a public plaza between 45th and 47th streets at Seventh Avenue and Broadway. Joshue Ott and Kenneth Kirschner, Times Square Alliance artists-in-residence, installed variant:breaker, a one-day interactive audiovisual installation that used four LED arrays and speakers that plays on Heart of Hearts' reflectivity to create an outdoor theater of sound and light. The partnership came about when Ott and Kirschner met Collective–LOK at a party, and, like Heart of Hearts, variant:breaker had to both survive and outperform the chaos of Times Square. The installation, Kirschner explained, was inspired by his young son's enthusiasm for his drum machine. Users created a sequence of randomly generated sounds by manipulating an iPad in the middle of the installation to activate the LED panels. The video below shows how the installation performed in action: https://www.flickr.com/photos/136339520@N03/25298776750/in/dateposted-public/ Conceptually, the objective of Heart of Hearts was to "out Times Square Times Square," explained Michael Kubo, one of three members of Collective–LOK. The trio wanted to take the hilarious spectacle that is Times Square and reflect it back onto itself, while creating inviting spaces for the more intimate spectacle of the kiss-and-selfie. The architectural renderings that accompanied the rollout of the project depicted a wedding, the Naked Cowboy, the famous llama, and the other happenings that give Times Square its weirdness. It turns out that the renderings were predictive: on Valentine's Day, despite the chill, multiple weddings were staged in Heart of Hearts. The architects were keenly attuned to the project's second life online, positioning their installation as the critical interface between the inherent narcissism of the selfie and an acute awareness of one's surroundings. The results would make Guy Debord proud. "The reflection was used to both embrace the context and have the thing and the space defined strictly by the context, but also, making people even more aware of the 'selfie moment' that we knew happened anyway," fellow collective member Jon Lott explained. "We were thinking about selfies from the beginning of the project," Kubo noted. "We asked, 'How do you build something that's an apparatus for people to take pictures of themselves but then decontextualize themselves, or make the things around them seem different?'" To find out, this normally selfie-averse reporter cozied up to a heart for a snap: In reviewing the photos, it was uncanny to see the the fragments and reflections (those pink fists!) that accompanied my image. The image could hardly be called a selfie, as Times Square inserted itself as a subject from all angles. Although the installation commands attention in the physical and virtual worlds, it had to make a minimal impact on the plaza. Drilling into the ground was verboten, so Collective–LOK designed an installation that was self-supporting. To give the installation its necessary rigidity and weight, the segmented hearts, which weigh a few hundred pounds apiece, were made from a quarter-inch-thick aluminum core sandwiched between eighth-inch gold acrylic mirror panels. Working with Brooklyn–based Kammetal, Collective–LOK had around one month to fabricate the piece and, due to the 24/7 activity in the square, an overnight installation timeframe a day before the unveiling. Although the collective would like to do more work in the public realm, there are no plans right now for Heart of Hearts to be installed elsewhere. When asked to name another space that would suit the installation, Kubo credited the essence of the installation to its context: "The particularities of the Times Square context are just unrepeatable."
In any other circumstance, razing a beloved historic building elicits outrage from preservationists. This time, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) worked the homonym, approving plans to raise the Palace Theater, at the corner of Seventh Avenue and West 47th Street, by 29 feet. New York's PBDW Architects and historic preservation consultants Higgins Quasebarth & Partners will lead the theater-raising and subsequent renovation. The lift will allow for 10,000 square feet of retail space on four levels, a new entrance on 47th Street with a 75-foot marquee, back-of-the-house space, a lobby 25-times the size of the current one, plus new bathrooms, the Wall Street Journal reports. Indianapolis-based Maefield Development is financing the move and renovation. When complete, theatergoers will enter through an escalator on West 47th Street to access the mezzanine lobby. Completed in 1913, the 1,700-seat Beaux-Arts Palace was one of the largest vaudeville theaters in the city. Originally, the theater was ensconced in an office building on four sides, though that building was demolished in 1988. Currently, the 45-story DoubleTree hotel tower surrounds the structure. The LPC gave landmark status to the theater's interior in 1987. Though raising a theater in the middle of a crowded urban area poses some logistical challenges, the project management team is not worried. The existing truss will be reinforced. One part will be removed, and a full box will be built around the theater. Beams for the new platform will be installed before telescopic jacks are put into place. The jacks they are using have twice the capacity needed for the weight of the structure, just in case. The existing structure will be raised one inch at a time. Though approved, the plan faced opposition from some preservation groups concerned about the message—commerce > art—that the project sends. The nonprofit Historic District Council noted that:
It is not appropriate to move or obstruct access to an interior landmark to make way for private development, a request that seems to be on the rise as we saw last year with the clocktower at 346 Broadway. Approval of this application will be a clear communication of conscience, and indicative that our culture and art is merely secondary to a Times Square corporate chain store.Proponents argue that the move allows both ground floor retail and expanded space for theater. Moreover, the Palace's interface with the street will be enhanced by the move, as the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue is too busy for theatergoers to linger around pre- and post-show. There's no word yet on dates for the move.
The Times Square Alliance takes "I ♥ New York" quite literally. For the past eight years, the nonprofit organization has invited architecture and design firms to create public art that responds to a Valentine's Day theme. This year the Times Square Alliance partnered with the Center for Architecture to administer the competition. Collective-LOK stole the hearts of jurists to win the 2016 Times Square Valentine Heart Design competition. Collective-LOK's submission, Heart of Hearts, is a circle of nine, ten-foot-tall golden hearts that reflect the lights and the goings-on of Times Square. The installation will be on view at Father Duffy Square, between 46th and 47th Streets, from February 29 through March 6. The sculpture is interactive, balancing private and public space in one of the world's busiest pedestrian plazas. Within each heart is a "kissing booth" that encourages intimate but performative affection. “[We] are thrilled to create the Heart of Hearts for Valentine’s Day, an engagement ring for our love affair with the spectacle of Times Square," Collective-LOK declared in a statement. "It’s truly a special opportunity to provide a space for intimacy and performance in the heart of the city, one we hope visitors will love.” The featured rendering certainly captures the ballet of a good city sidewalk—a llama stares contentedly at its reflection, a lonely man flouting blue laws drinks champagne from the bottle, while the Naked Cowboy jams on, stage left. Why is that man staring into that woman's white skirt? It's all part of the spectacle, apparently. For more heartwarming displays of public art, see AN's coverage of past competition winners here.
When the words “Scandinavian Design” come up, most people quickly think about Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. But Norway is no slouch, either. Recently, the nation's designers have been drumming up noise in the worlds of furniture, product design, and architecture. A string of exhibitions, a master plan for New York’s Times Square, and a robust program of roadside pavilions and viewing platforms highlight this Norsk moment. Leading the way are architects Snøhetta, who have been on quite the streak in the last year, most recently gaining commissions to master plan Penn Station and Times Square, just ten blocks from each other in New York. While their Times Square design isn’t the firm's most dramatic work—indeed, it's intended to be a subtle backdrop to the chaotic public space—but it should be a welcome, nuanced addition to the commercial free-for-all that includes Guy’s American Kitchen & Bar. Just a few blocks to the west—towards the Hudson River—the Royal Norwegian Consulate General showed off the country’s design prowess at a recent series of events. At Wanted Design, Calm, Cool and Collected: New Designs from Norway, a booth full of Norsk people and treasures, showcased the subtle use of wood characteristic of Scandinavian design. The up-and-coming studios on display included A-Form, Stokke Austad, Anderssen & Voll, Lars Beller Fjetland, Everything Elevated, Kristine Five Melvær, and Sverre Uhnger. Also sponsored by the Norwegian government was Insidenorway at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), which hosted a group of classic Norwegian brands: Figgjo, Mandal Veveri, Røros Tweed, and VAD. Plates by Figgjo were offered in three styles and featured an elegant flat base and flared edge. Røros Tweed showed off textiles by other famous Norwegians—Anderssen & Voll, Snøhetta, and Bjarne Melgaard. At Collective Design, Oslo- and Tokyo-based Fuglen Gallery showcased an assortment of objects both new and old, alongside work by Norwegian artist Arne Lindaas. The eclectic assortment showed the thematic extension of Norwegian modernism into the 21st century, encompassing much of the iconic work with new, up-and-coming designers. In 2014, Norwegian Icons was curated by Fuglen and Blomqvist at Openhouse Gallery in New York, and showcased the Midcentury design that peaked in Norway around 1950–1970. This exhibition actually continued the tradition of Norway’s promotional shows on the international stage, while also setting up some context for the other shows. It is not just international exhibitions and commissions that have drawn attention to Norway’s strong design culture. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration famously commissions its infrastructure to architects. Across the country, there are points of architectural interest, many of which are located in scenic areas. Most famously, the Trollstigen National Tourist Route has six stunning overlooks. Besides Snøhetta’s iconic designs such as the Oslo Opera House, there are architects like Fantastic Norway and Reiulf Ramstad who are consistently producing top work. At institutions like Fuglen, 0047, and the Oslo School of Architecture & Design, intellectual communities thrive, fostering a strong community of young designers like MMW and Atelier Oslo. The city will get an additional cultural boost during the 2016 Oslo Triennale, curated by New York–based team at After Belonging Agency, a group of five Spanish architects, curators and scholars. Take a look at some of Norway's top new design in the gallery below.
The artist whose name is linked inextricably to screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and the Campbell’s soup can also had a fruitful career in feature films, producing Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Chelsea Girls. As part of the Midnight Moments series, Times Square will run screen tests by Andy Warhol on its billboards to replace its million-dollar neon advertising—for a fleeting three minutes a day, anyway. The footage of Warhol’s piercingly personal screen tests with friends and celebrity guests will appear each night from 11:57p.m.–12:00a.m. Lapses in ad revenue should be marginal, if negligible. Some of this footage has rarely, if ever, been shown outside of a museum setting. Candid shots of screen and music legends Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Edie Sedgwick, and Dennis Hopper filmed from 1964 to 1966 will be blown up to epic proportions on the world’s most iconic billboards in Midtown Manhattan from May 1 through 31. The Midnight Moments series is aimed at bringing more art-oriented work into the otherwise corporate vacuum, where deep-pocketed multinationals shell out $3.8 million to advertise for 30 seconds during the Superbowl in one of New York’s most tourist-thronged, well-connected hubs. Previous initiatives include a video installation by Yoko Ono titled Imagine Peace and a multi-screen showing of Bjork’s music video for Mutual Core.
Times Square, 1984: The Postmodern Moment The Skyscraper Museum 39 Battery Place, New York Through February 15 Once a seedy, crime-ridden corridor, Times Square has since been transformed into a vibrant and safe, neon-lit entertainment hub for theatergoers. But in 1984, the future of The Great White Way was uncertain. A proposal to erect a set of four skyscrapers and demolish the 1904 Times Tower jump started a debate between urban renewal advocates and preservation-minded urbanists, and gave way to an “ideas competition” for the site, organized by the Municipal Art Society and National Endowment for the Arts. The Skyscraper Museum’s Times Square, 1984: The Postmodern Moment highlights 20 drawings from the juried competition, showcasing a real assortment of ideas, ranging from passionate declarations to more eccentric architectural proposals.
A big, red fluttering heart will be aglow in Times Square this coming Valentine’s Day. Brooklyn-based, Venezuelan-born firm, Stereotank, has been named the winner of the 2015 Times Square Valentine Heart Design for its HEARTBEAT sculpture. The firm was invited, among others, to conceive a proposal for a Valentine's Day–inspired installation, located among the many glimmering lights of the Great White Way. The Times Square Alliance, in partnership with the Architectural League of New York, selected the winning proposal, which will open on February 9th. Stereotank’s HEARTBEAT is an interactive installation in the shape of a large heart, designed to glow along with the rhythm of a resonating heartbeat sound, set to a low frequency. Percussion instruments flank both sides of sculpture. The pace of the sound of this life-size beating heart will change in response to the movement and engagement of visitors as they near the sculpture and tap on its drums—each of which produces distinct sounds from different sized membranes and materials, including synthetic snare skin, synthetic snare skin will coil, animal hide, and hard plastic. “What's common between Love and Music? Love is about sharing and being ‘in tune’ with somebody, so it is the creation of music, a concert is a combined action where the performers are also ‘in tune’ creating harmony. Heartbeat orchestrates Times Square's unique, active, flickering atmosphere,” said Stereotank architects Sara Valente and Marcelo Ertorteguy in a statement. This year’s finalists included Alibi Studio; The Bittertang Farm & James Lowder; Chat Travieso; Modu Architecture; SLO Architecture; and Taylor Miller. Past winners of the competition, now in its seventh year, have included Young Projects (2014); Situ Studio (2013); BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) (2012); Freecell (2011); Moorhead & Moorhead (2010); and Gage / Clemenceau Architects (2009). “The combination of an interactive heart beat that increases with approach and the music making capacities is very interesting," stated Barry Bergdoll, part of the Selection Committee and the Meyer Shapiro Professor of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University. "It is an impressive object to occupy this space of cacophony, with sufficient red mass to be enjoyed even by wheeled passersby.”
Archtober Building of the Day #28 Times Square Reconstruction Broadway and Seventh Avenue (West 42nd to West 47th Streets) Snøhetta “Looking for calm within the chaos,” was how Nick Koster of Snøhetta, described the firm’s design for the Times Square Reconstruction. Just then a topless woman dressed as a super hero sashayed past the Archtober tour group, which contained about a dozen school children. Snøhetta’s plan for Times Square is successful because it doesn’t assert itself as a piece of architecture or design. Instead, it serves as a foil for the craziness around it. At one of the brightest and loudest intersections in the world their goal was to create a space, “that’s open and flexible and can be used by a lot of different user groups for a lot of things,” said Koster. Broadway and 7th Avenue form a bowtie-shaped, four-acre space as they cross between 42 and 47 streets. Snøhetta’s challenge was to design a public space along the closed two-acre portion of Broadway. The constraints were many and various, from the “guests of the street,” as the city calls the utilities like Con Edison and Verizon whose cables lie beneath Broadway, to the Shuttle Train subway tunnel, which at some points is just three inches below the sidewalk. To unify the new public space the firm chose an iconic paving scheme anchored with fifty-foot stone benches, which are not yet installed. The dingy gum-covered sidewalk was demolished. What was once the street was raised to sidewalk level, and separated from the cross streets with a new granite curb. The former street and sidewalk were covered with a pattern of quartz-finished pavers punctuating by stainless steel bolts. “We wanted something really subtle that captures the light,” said Koster. Claire Felman, of Snøhetta, explained that the bolts are reminiscent of the marquis lights of “the great white way,” an older iteration of Times Square. Koster said a major objective was “the act of de-cluttering.” Events and vendors who use the plaza need electricity, but Snøhetta wanted to do away with the droning generators and wires that line the pavement. The solution was subterranean wiring built into the benches. The monolithic benches are also intended to direct the flow of pedestrian traffic and create quieter sub-spaces, as Koster put it, “a place of rest that people need.”