Thursday, December 17, 2009

Piazza Times Square?

When the department of Transportation closed seven blocks of Broadway to cars this summer, New Yorkers were offered an object lesson in how profoundly urban space can be altered by a few traffic barriers and a bucket of paint. Within hours, the newly pedestrianized Times Square was colonized by wanderers, nearby office workers, and tourists calling home (“You will not believe where I am standing!”). But what, exactly, should replace an avenue formerly filled with cars? Three design firms were invited to suggest visionary ideas for the street’s future. None is particularly ... practical. But then again, this time last year, who would have expected to see our most famous boulevard transformed into a piazza? Dutch Designers West 8 created some ideas: It is crucial that Times Square not be further transformed into a theme park or playground: It must be robust, substantial, urban, and timeless, while amplifying the neighborhood’s singular reputation. To make Times Square a true public square, we propose repaving it with an LED-lighted “carpet” whose pattern suggests fireworks, spinning ticker tape, Champagne bubbles, and the New Year’s ball drop. Times Square is dedicated to the idea of verticality. How to add green in such a place? Make high, elevated places for solitary trees—“tree pedestals” that synthesize the Olmstedian lanterns of Central Park and the neighborhood street tree. Read more in NYMagazine.