Everyone loves the new pedestrian plazas in Herald Square and Times Square in Manhattan–how could you not? Traffic moves faster, injuries are down, and eating lunch outside is easier. That said, their design has always seemed a little … cheap. It’s Times Square! The hub of New York, home to the awesome TKTS Booth, and we get colored epoxy gravel and dinky folding chairs.
That’s about to change. Last month, Mayor Bloomberg announced that the “Green Light for Midtown” program will make those new car-free zones permanent, but until they get a fancy new redesign, the sites will get a fresh coat of paint. Or, as DOT calls it, “economical, temporary surface treatments.” On Wednesday, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled a design competition called reNEWable Times Square to give some much-needed (albeit temporary) pizzazz to the plazas. The new designs will be installed in July, and stay up for eight months, until the permanent redesigns get underway. The deadline is April 16, and the winner gets $15,000.
DOT, DDC, and the TSA will choose the design for the permanent plazas in the next few months. Or rather, they’ll choose a design firm from the 28 members of the city’s Design and Construction Excellence program, who will choose a “team of experts” who will develop a proposal for city agencies. Phew. No wonder construction on the new sites isn’t planned until 2012.