New York City's Times Square is set for a multimillion dollar makeover that will give the five-block area a film noir look.
The Great White Way will get a little bit darker with permanent pedestrian plazas of smooth, dark pavement studded with reflective metal disks. The designers hope the new look will capture the gritty feel of the city's colorful past.
It's not taking its cues from some pretty little things in Europe or something, Craig Dykers, an architect with Snohetta Design, the firm that also designed the 9/11 Museum downtown, said during a presentation to Community Board 5's Transportation Committee Monday night.
Snohetta Design revealed its preliminary plans at the meeting.
Our design has a film noir feel to it; it's more muscular. Paris or London can have these little benches, but New York has a toughness to it, Dykers said.
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The $27 million redesign, which is headed toward final approval by the city, will transform the raw concrete plazas into sleek silver-gray spaces featuring slablike benches and embedded metallic nickel-sized pucks. The new look is intended to simplify and declutter, Times Square, according to Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.
It really tries to complement, rather than compete, with Times Square, Tompkins told The New York Times.
The new look will be the final step in the reimaging of the world's number one tourist attraction.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration got the ball rolling back in 2009 when they banned automobiles and installed pedestrian-friendly plazas in parts of the bowtie-shaped square.
Construction on the new makeover should begin next fall and be completed by 2014. Workers will start by leveling the ground from W. 42nd to W. 47th Streets.
It's taken years of thought and work and dialogue to make Times Square the kind of place that looks good and works for the purposes that it's designed for, Wally Rubin, Community Board 5 district manager, told the New York Daily News.
The new benches will replace the flimsy furniture currently on the plazas and will also divide the space between free-flowing walkways and areas where visitors can congregate. This will allow frenetic New Yorkers to pass on one side, while dazzled tourists meander on the other.
The comment that one hears almost all the time is that New Yorkers, for the most part, don't really like to be in Times Square, Dykers said on Monday. The new design will allow for different speeds at which people can move through Times Square.
The revamped plazas will be subtle so as not to distract from the glitz of the marquees and lights.
The symbol of larger-than-life New York, the Times Square of 2014 will be both an ode to the past and a nod to the future.