The Times Square Alliance hired Project for Public Spaces (PPS), from May 2006 to June 2007, to better understand and re-imagine how Times Square performs as a public space.
PPS began by gaining a better understanding of the district through systematic observation techniques such as time-lapse film analysis, activity mapping, tracking and user surveys. (See our User Analysis Summary and Findings)
The general issues and opportunities that emerged from the analysis included:
With these issues in mind, PPS also conducted comprehensive research of international best practices, drawing specific lessons from how other places have addressed similar challenges.
Working with the client PPS then developed key programmatic recommendations and conceptual plans. Recommendations included reconfiguration of streets to better accommodate foot traffic and reduce the negative impacts of traffic; architectural treatments and amenities to improve the pedestrian experience; retail strategies to diversify the district’s attraction; and new public space programming such as performances and markets.
To help the alliance sell this vision to its partners and constituents and take it into a design stage, PPS developed a series of photo-simulations depicting the vision. PPS also presented its observations, best practices research and programmatic recommendations to a selection of leading designers to explore ways that they could creatively respond to and build on PPS findings and recommendations.
Shortly after the completion of the study, there was a major shift in the NYC Department of Transportation administration towards the goals of our NYC Streets Renaissance Campaign. The new administration hired our 10-year staffer, and director of our transportation initiative, Andrew Wiley-Schwartz to oversee public space projects including Times Square.
At NYCDOT, Wiley-Schwartz, helped lead "Green Light for Midtown," which the DOT called "a major initiative in the City’s efforts to improve mobility and safety…the work created new pedestrian areas on Broadway in Times Square (47th to 42nd Streets) and Herald Square (35th to 33rd Streets). Extensive safety improvements were also made along the Broadway corridor between Columbus Circle and Madison Square. The improvements in safety and traffic flow were so successful that Mayor Bloomberg decided to make these changes permanent.