Next time you are in Times Square, don’t be shy when you see a spotlight– no matter how lame your dance moves are, you are guaranteed an explosive roar of applause from an invisible, enthusiastic crowd of people as long as you are moving. (What a refreshing departure from the notorious American Idol jury.) This location-appropriate spotlight installation is an interactive public art work by Adam Frank, an installation artist and a product inventor, whose body of work “represents an ongoing investigation of light and interactivity.” His shadow-casting oil lamp, LUMEN, is one of the MoMA Store’s best-selling items.
Mayor Bloomberg’s vision for a pedestrian-friendly Times Square is about to be written in stone. On September 27, Snøhetta gave Community Board 5 a preview of things to come at the Crossroads of the World, and they look a lot more permanent than lawn chairs and painted pavements. Principal Craig Dykers presented designs for dark and darker pavers that largely eliminate any bias for an automotive Broadway, stepping the plaza streetscape up to sidewalk grade and adding elongated benches to indicate long-gone traffic patterns. In homage to New York noir, the designers have also embedded nickel-sized reflectors adding a hard bit of glitz to the dark stones that will not compete with the glam above.
According to an email from Seth Solomonow, Press Secretary at the NYC Department of Transportation: “This long-planned redesign will restore the aging utilities below the street, which itself hasn’t been rebuilt in more than 50 years and still has trolley tracks beneath the asphalt. On the surface, this simple, flexible design will clear obstructions and support the growing number of programs occurring in Times Square, which more than 350,000 people visit every day.”
Last week, we came across illustrator James Gilliver Hancock’s series of playful block elevations titled “All the Buildings in New York.” It turns out this impulse to sketch block upon block of New York’s architecture has been around for quite some time. In 1899, the Mail & Express newspaper company published a graphic journey down Manhattan’s Broadway in a book called A Pictorial description of Broadway now archived at the New York Public Library.
The stroll down Broadway 112 years ago reveals just how much New York has evolved over the past century. As the NYPL says, “The result, as you can see here, is a 19th century version of Google’s Street View, allowing us to flip through the images block by block, passing parks, churches, novelty stores, furriers, glaziers, and other businesses of the city’s past.”
We got an email earlier today from Leni Schwendinger, principal of Light Projects, informing us that she was also part of the team redesigning Times Square, a terrible omission from the original announcement given that this probably the most well-lit place on the planet. “As a location singularly (and controversially) known for lighting and light, the Times Square win is very important,” Schwendinger wrote. “It is Light Projects’ opportunity to redefine the role of light in the public space of Times Square for pedestrians.” (Graphic designers Pure and Applied and engineers Buro Happold are also on the Snohetta-led team.) This revelation led to a nice little discussion on the nature of Times Squares’ gigawhattage and some brainstorming on what might make a good design. Read More
Did you have a nice time watching Phantom of the Opera? Did you buy all that you could carry from The Disney Store? Have fun strolling down the soon-to-be-redesigned Broadway plazas? Why not pop around the corner and check out a peep show? I’m not talking naked ladies here, I’m talking real live sharks! This isn’t a joke. In the very near future this may be an option. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Jerry Shefsky—a Toronto-based developer—is near to closing a deal with SJP Properties to put a 600,000-gallon aquarium in the base of the company’s brand spanking new 11 Times Square office tower. In addition to the aforementioned sharks, the $100 million project would include tanks featuring rays, penguins, otters, and drier attractions such as a pirate museum. This could even serve as a model for other financially troubled projects in the city. Perhaps turn Stuytown into a zoo? Not that it isn’t one already.
If you can’t make it to the Hafele showroom tonight for the presentation on lumenHAUS—Virginia Tech’s entry to the 2009 DOE Solar Decathlon—don’t worry about it. AN was in Times Square last night to get the inside skinny on the solar-powered wonder house. In a quest to reconcile contemporary goals of sustainability with modern architecture, the VT team went beyond solar arrays. They began by studying the Farnsworth House and looking for ways to increase its insulation while maintaining its connection to its surroundings. That inquiry led to the design of a steel-framed glass box outfitted with two layers of sliding panels. Read More
If you didn’t have a chance to make it down to D.C. for the 2009 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, now is your chance to make up for it. Starting today and running through Sunday, Virginia Tech’s entry will be on display in Times Square. Known as lumenHAUS, the 800-square-foot single family home is replete with high tech features such as an iPhone interface, smart controls that automatically adjust climate systems, and of course solar power. If any of this peaks your interest, professors from the Virginia Tech School of Art + Design will be giving a presentation tomorrow night from 6:00 to 7:30 at the Hafele showroom, 25 East 26th St.