Although Times Square in New York City is visited by over 300,000 people every day, the on-the-ground qualities of the district were dangerous and congested prior to Snøhetta’s reenvisioning of this congested landscape. Through a process of selective deletions and a holistic redesign of the public realm, our interventions put the “square” back into “Times Square.” With support from the City of New York Department of Design and Construction and the Times Square Business Improvement District, our reconstruction of Times Square created a series of new pedestrian plazas between 42nd and 47th Streets, transforming what was once a dangerous and unpleasant to navigate series of blocks into a place where people are free to stop, gather, and relax. By implementing a collection of subtle yet powerful approaches, like the elimination of curbs, removal of site clutter, and introduction of sculpted granite benches, our team has dramatically transformed the pedestrian experience within Times Square.
New York City Department of Design and Construction
Times Square Business Improvement District
Completed in 2017, the project radically carves out 2.5 acres of pedestrian-only space at Manhattan’s core, transforming a notoriously congested intersection into a world-class civic space. Subtle design gestures within the public realm integrate crucial utility and infrastructure upgrades above and below grade while doubling the amount of pedestrian space in the Square. The design of the new plazas empowers people to move in a natural, comfortable way through Midtown Manhattan. With a measurable positive impact on public safety, air quality, and economic output, the project stands as a model for how the carefully considered design of our urban landscapes can improve the health and well-being of its users while providing an important space for democratic gathering.
Conceived as a project whose success would be measured not only by its new aesthetic but also the long-term physical, psychological, and economic benefits on its local and global community, the new plaza on Broadway has reinvented Times Square as a contemporary stage for the spectacle of public life, reviving its place at the heart of New York City.
Snøhetta’s design creates uncluttered pedestrian zones and a cohesive surface that reinforces the Square’s role as an outdoor stage. The project instituted the permanent pedestrianization of the plazas in the district, as well as the widening of the 7th Avenue sidewalks in the so-called “Bowtie” area, which refers to the way the Broadway interrupts the street grid to create the iconic wedge-shaped spaces. These changes have nearly doubled amount of pedestrian space in the Square. As a result, pedestrian injuries have decreased by 40%, vehicular accidents have decreased by 15%, and overall crime in the area decreased 20%.
As a critical New York City streetscape improvement initiative, the project included significant coordination of below-ground utilities, municipal infrastructure, surface-level traffic, and mass transit services.