New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced that work has begun to install "Cool Water, Hot Island," the winning, temporary design treatment to refresh the streetscape at the Times Square pedestrian plazas, selected last month following a design competition. New York City artist Molly Dilworth created the design's blue-themed pattern based on NASA infrared satellite data of Manhattan, suggesting a river flowing through the center of Times Square, and providing a visual counterpoint to the area's signature marquees and billboards. Commissioner Sadik-Khan and City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner David J. Burney also announced that the architecture firm Snohetta has been selected to lead a team that includes many New York City-based designers, engineers and event infrastructure specialists to create a plan for the permanent redesign of the iconic area, which will be reconstructed starting in 2012. Snohetta was selected through the Design + Construction Excellence program, established by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and administered by the DDC. Snohetta's New York office is known for work ranging from the National September 11 Memorial Museum in Manhattan to the library in Alexandria, Egypt.
"As we start work on this inviting, attractive temporary treatment, we are also working to ensure that the Times Square of tomorrow has the design and infrastructure it needs to remain the signature destination that millions come to see every year," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan.
"It is a classic New York story that reconstruction of the 'Crossroads of the World' will be led by a firm with an international reputation for creative vision and excellence," said David J. Burney, FAIA, commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction. "Top professionals from various areas of expertise will deliver a project worthy of the greatest city in the world."
"Our goal is to improve the quality and atmosphere of this historic site for pedestrians and bicyclists while also allowing for efficient transportation flow for the betterment of the city," said Craig Dykers, co-founder of Snohetta and New York office director.
"We're thrilled that the City has made a clear commitment to quality by choosing a world-class design team for one of the world's most iconic public spaces," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. "For the last decade the number one complaint about Times Square has been the clutter and appearance of the public realm; this team has the experience and expertise to creatively address that. And Molly Dilworth's work will create a welcome splash of color and 'coolness'—in every sense of the word—in the meantime."
Artist Molly Dilworth, best known in New York for her rooftop paintings, designed the temporary treatment based on the urban "heat-island effect," where cities tend to experience warmer temperatures than rural settings. The blues and light shades of the design reflect more sunlight and absorb less heat—improving the look of the popular pedestrian areas while making them more comfortable places to sit. The new design is scheduled to be installed by early August. Renderings showing the current treatment and the conceptual design are below.
The Alliance will monitor and maintain the temporary treatments for up to 18 months as the city develops plans for the design and construction of permanent plazas and the reconstruction of the roadbed under both Broadway and 7th Avenues, under the Department of Design and Construction's Design + Construction Excellence program. As part of the longer-term project, DOT and DDC are working with a team of experts—from landscape professionals to architects to engineers—to design world-class plazas with ample seating, new paving and underground infrastructure able to accommodate and enhance the signature events that are staged at Times Square throughout the year. The team will include representation from Weidlinger Associates, WXY Architecture and Design, Mathews Nielsen, Billings Jackson Design and Bexel.
The project will also completely reconstruct the roadways in Times Square, which have not been structurally repaired in decades. Reconstruction will take place in the areas of Broadway and Seventh Avenue between West 42nd and West 47th streets and cross streets. The project's scope includes design and construction elements of the pedestrian plaza in Times Square; reconstruction of the roadway and reconstruction of water mains and sewers as necessary. Times Square currently has no permanent electrical, sound or broadcasting infrastructure in the area despite its use for large scale events and celebrations.
For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/dot.