(New York, NY) — The famous and infamous Times Square in the heart of midtown Manhattan celebrates the completion—work was finished in 2016—of its successful and ingenuous way to create more outdoor public space for many diverse crowds to use. By successfully rerouting southbound traffic to make room for a piazza-like, the pedestrian-friendly outdoor space is now part of the transformation of Times Square. It is a cultural hub, a public, dynamic and always changing site, and a place to relax and take in the immense colorful view.
FINDING SPACE YOU DIDN”T EVEN KNOW YOU HAVE
After the rerouting, ushered along by architecture firm, Snøhetta, Times Square gained two and a half acres, or 110,000 square feet of new multifunction meeting places for tourists to sight-see or for midtown workers nearby who want to have lunch al fresco. The reconstruction takes up an interesting bowtie-shaped intersection.
NOT YOUR FATHER’S BENCH
More than just tables and chairs, what’s sparking renewed public interest are eleven benches spread throughout Times Square. This is not your father’s bench. This is a bench built to last, and range from 30-to-50 feet long. It conceals a system of fiber-optic cables and conduits and power is generated by ConEdison. A 400-amp socket was designed for big productions like concerts or as a movie backdrop, or anything that needs a lot of power. A 20-amp will allow for a guitar-playing singer to perform here.
But don’t expect to get wired up and descend upon the square. To power up the bench, you need city permits. Even security is tight; there are stainless steel locks that are guarded by the DoT.
THIS BENCH IS NOT A BENCH
But Snøhetta, the design team, refuse to call the benches benches because they are so much more than that, and even so much more than the fact that they have been wired. Claire Fellman of Snøhetta questions the general “use” of a bench, and argues that the Times Square bench does more than an ordinary bench. You can lean on it, lie back against, or sit in multiple rows. They direct pedestrian traffic and, to paraphrase Snøhetta, they are trying to draw in visitors, not keep them away, especially since how many times can you come to Times Square to dine at Red Lobster or to buy your Strivecton at Sephora, two over-the-top flagship-like stores that serve to anchor the brightness of Times Square.