Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta has completed phase one of New York’s Times Square renovations, continuing the initiative started in 2009 to pedestrianise large sections of the area.
The reconstruction project, costing up to $55m, is the largest redesign of the square in decades, with plans to transform five public plazas, reconstructed to remove all traces of vehicle traffic that once ran through the square.
The architecture firm had finalised the redevelopment of the plaza between 42nd and 43rd street just in time for New Year’s Eve celebrations. The newly renovated space features flattened-out curbs creating single-level surfaces for pedestrians and a new benches and paving surfaces.
The architects have plans to open the second plaza by the end of 2015 with the entire projecting completed by the following year. Snøhetta is working alongside engineers Weidlinger Associate and landscape architect Matthews Nielson.
“Since we first introduced temporary pedestrian plazas in Times Square, we have seen increased foot traffic and decreased traffic injuries – and businesses have seen more customers than ever,” said New York’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg. “With more than 400,000 pedestrians passing through Times Square every day, the plazas have been good for New Yorkers, our visitors, and our businesses – and that’s why we’re making them permanent.”
With the completion of the project, 13,000m2 of new pedestrians will be added to Times Square. It will additionally feature ten solid granite benches and two-tone paving slabs with embedded metal discs, designed to reflect the neon glow from the surrounding sings and billboards.
“With innovative designs and a little paint, we’ve shown you can change a street quickly with immediate benefits,” said transportation commissioner Sadik-Khan.