Construction should finally start this summer on the Times Square makeover by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta. The project has been in the works for some time, but Snøhetta is used to extended timelines: the firm's entrance to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, after all, is still in progress, too. The New Yorker's David Owen spent some time with Snøhetta's two principals, Kjetil Thorsen and Craig Dykers, to learn about the firm's Times Square plans?here are five facts about the much-maligned area's remake that have us excited to see the finished product:
1) The architects see themselves as the sheepdogs to Times Square's hordes of pedestrians. As Dykers put it: "I have a friend who had a sheepdog, and he said whenever he had a party it would herd the guests?until, by the end of the evening, everyone at the party was in one corner. The dog was happy, but the important thing was that nobody noticed."
2) Unlike many other architects who submitted proposals for Times Square, Snøhetta doesn't want to add lights to the area. In fact, the architects want to add darkness. They decided that Times Square was missing the "uniform band of relative darkness at street level" seen in old photographs.
3) There will be no more vegetation. The planters that currently separate pedestrian-only areas from cars-allowed areas are more trouble than they're worth, since people pull the plants out, throw cigarettes in, and climb into them on New Year's Eve, so they've gotta go.
4) Granite benches will be added to divide "pedestrian spaces in ways that provide navigational cues?.The benches, some of which will be fifty feet long and five feet wide, will conceal built-in access to electrical, digital, and fire-optic networks."
5) Snøhetta will make the pedestrian spaces larger around the TKTS plaza, but the booth itself won't change.