FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 2, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG JOINS TIMES SQUARE ALLIANCE, THEATRE DEVELOPMENT FUND AND COALITION FOR FATHER DUFFY TO BREAK GROUND ON NEWLY DESIGNED DUFFY SQUARE AND TKTS BOOTH
Ceremony Marks Continuing Transformation of Times Square as a Great Public Space
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Times Square Alliance Chairman Jeffrey Gural, Theatre Development Fund (TDF) Chairman David D. Holbrook and Coalition for Father Duffy Chairman Bruce Meyerson for a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction on the redesign of Duffy Square and a new TKTS ticket booth. The total cost of the project is almost $12.7 million including $9.5 million from the City and the City Council, and $3 million in private funds from the Times Square Alliance, TDF and the Coalition for Father Duffy. Construction is scheduled to be completed by December 2006 in time for the annual New Year's Eve in Times Square festivities. The ceremony featured a Color Guard from the 69th Regiment, recently returned from active duty in Iraq, an invocation by Father Joe Kelly of St. Malachy's Parish, and was also attended by Law & Order star S. Epatha Merkerson, Mayor's Midtown Citizens Committee Chairman Gerald Schoenfeld and League of American Theatres and Producers President Jed Bernstein.
"The revitalization of Times Square is known worldwide as a stunning example of a successful urban turnaround that occurred through a combination of public and private efforts," said Mayor Bloomberg. "This redesign of Duffy Square is another great example of those continuing efforts and it will be the centerpiece of one of the world's greatest urban revitalization projects. Once completed, Duffy Square will easily find a place alongside the many iconic New York City public spaces and provide the best seats in the house to watch the most exciting show on earth - Times Square."
The final design concept is the product of what was New York City's largest architectural competition prior to the competition for the World Trade Center site, drawing 683 proposals from 31 countries. The competition was organized and managed by the Van Alen Institute in 1999 as an official NYC 2000 millennium committee project. The winning design concept for the new TKTS Booth - which includes of a glass stair structure for seating over the ticket-selling operation - was created by Choi Ropiha and developed by Perkins Eastman. It is integrated into and enhanced by the plaza design by William Fellows Architects LLC that will transform the center of the Times Square district and raise the bar for public space design in New York City.
In keeping with its surroundings, the amphitheatre-style structure will be built entirely from glass and will be architecturally spectacular. The TKTS booth will be a free-standing, custom-fabricated fiberglass shell that sits beneath the steps, and will be visible through the glass side walls of the structure. The staircase will be made up of red glass steps supported on glass stringers and spanning between glass load-bearing walls that will be illuminated from within by red LEDs. The overall effect will be visually dramatic - a shimmering, floating carpet of color and light.
William Fellows Architects' deceptively simple plaza design will allow visitors to experience the entire bowtie of Times Square on a grand scale. The square has been swept clean of street furniture and clutter, developing a gently undulating plane of granite pavers - approximately 3,800 of them - that rise and fall subtly as one moves along the plaza toward Father Duffy. Eighty-eight in-ground light fixtures arranged in groups of two throughout the plaza create a dramatic environment for the Square and for the Father Duffy Statue. These pools of light will ignite the square, providing theatrical up-lighting on this urban stage in a manner befitting the 'Crossroads of the World.'
For the construction period, TDF has opened a temporary TKTS Ticket Booth for same-day discount tickets to Broadway, Off Broadway, music and dance productions one block away from Duffy Square, just outside the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel on 46th Street between Broadway and Eighth Avenue. In addition, TKTS has an existing Lower Manhattan location at South Street Seaport at the corner of Front and John Streets.
"We are grateful to the City's leadership for making these plans a reality," said Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins. "The implementation of this historic project is truly the result of a unique and successful public-private partnership and the renovation of Duffy Square is one more step in our continuing effort to revitalize the Times Square area."
"We are excited to be part of this public-private partnership that pulls together so much of what makes New York City great - strong public leadership, active commercial interests and private philanthropy coming together to serve Times Square, New Yorkers and visitors alike," said TDF Executive Director Victoria Bailey. "We are thrilled that TKTS will finally have a permanent home to serve the theatre as part of this new pedestrian-friendly gathering place, and we are grateful to the New York Marriott Marquis and their General Manager Mike Stengel, for providing us with such a convenient, temporary location during the construction period."
"On behalf of the Coalition, I am proud to stand with our partners to reaffirm the City's respect for Father Francis Patrick Duffy - a patriotic American, a heroic chaplain, a caring priest and pastor, and a New Yorker through and through," said Mr. Meyerson. "I would be remiss if I failed to mention a man whose singular vision and persistence were the driving forces behind today's groundbreaking: General Joseph A. Healey, former Commanding General of the Rainbow Division, Commanding Officer of the 69th Regiment and Chairman of this Coalition. I know the General is up there right now, with Father Duffy, smiling down on this great accomplishment."
The Duffy Square project is the latest in a series of improvements that the City has made to enhance pedestrian safety in Times Square. In 2001 and 2002, temporary sidewalk extensions were installed to provide more space for pedestrians to walk through the area. In 2002, vehicle turning restrictions were added along 7th Avenue between West 44th and West 47th Streets making it safer for pedestrians to cross the street. During the upcoming reconstruction of Times Square, the sidewalk extensions will be made permanent and the Department of Transportation (DOT ) is currently studying several other safety improvements for the area.
"Mayor Bloomberg has made pedestrian safety a priority in New York City," said DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall. "Providing additional sidewalk space for the large crowds at Father Duffy Square is just the latest in a number of improvements to keep the millions of people who visit Times Square safe each year."
"Duffy Square plays many roles - it is an outdoor venue for street performances, a backdrop for tourist photos, a site for media events, and of course, it is the home of the very popular TKTS Ticket Booth," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "We are grateful to our many project partners for helping redesign the Square so that it will continue to serve as the district's center of excitement."
"It goes without saying that Times Square is one of our City's most dynamic and identifiable locations and the area's business improvement district, the Times Square Alliance, has played an integral role in its success," said SBS Commissioner Robert W. Walsh. "They work 365 days a years making it a stronger neighborhood and this improvement at Duffy Square is yet another step in making visits here even more memorable and enjoyable."
"Culture and art contributes an enormous amount to the economic health of the City," said EDC President Andrew M. Alper. "It is highly appropriate that EDC has a role in establishing this exciting permanent home for TKTS which makes the New York-theater experience more assessable to so many residents and visitors."
"We are delighted to provide design assistance to the Duffy Square project as we work to make the 'Crossroads of the World' even more worthy of its name," said Department of Design and Construction Commissioner David J. Burney, AIA.
Stu Loeser/Jennifer Falk (212) 788-2958
Kay Sarlin (DOT)
Germaine Febles (Times Square Alliance) (212) 843-8031
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