The ongoing testing and development of Time’s Square over recent years has highlighted the significant advantages of interim design. Using temporary interventions in the street space, the City Council have been able to test new ideas, prove their worth, and evaluate the concerns of businesses and local communities.
This case study outlines the process of how New York City reclaimed one of its busiest road intersections for pedestrian space. The site is Broadway, at the intersection with 7th avenue and Times Square. The project has become an international precedent for phasing out vehicles in a road space and gradually implementing a successful long-term design for public space.
The project started in 2009 as an experiment under Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn. The project was first titled ‘Green Light for Mid town’, and the initial aims were to improve pedestrian safety and to improve traffic flow. A temporary transformation was first implemented, giving New Yorkers the chance to voice whether they liked the change or not. They wholeheartedly voted for the change to stay, and an international design competition was launched, which was won by the Norwegian practice Snøhetta.
In late 2013 phase one of Snøhetta’s long term redesign was unveiled, with an expected implementation of 2015. The final redesign encompasses the transformation of five public plazas between 42nd and 47th streets along Broadway.
The project has far exceeded its initial aims of safety and traffic functionality. The project has become an international benchmark for the successful transformation of a busy car road into well-used public space. Once complete the transformation will add 13,000 sq m, or 53% more of new pedestrian space to Times Square (Dezeen Design Magazine).