New Duffy Square Adds Glass Crown Atop Broadway Boulevard

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Last week saw the latest expansion of the public realm in Midtown, with the official unveiling of the long-awaited redesign of Duffy Square at Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the northern edge of the Times Square "bowtie."

In conjunction with the city, the Theater Development Fund, the Times Square Alliance and the Coalition for Father Duffy repurposed one lane of vehicle traffic each from Broadway and Seventh, doubling the amount of pedestrian space in an area that is notorious for overflowing sidewalks. The project is capped by a new and vastly improved TKTS booth, with a publicly-accessible roof consisting of 27 red laminated glass steps, rising 16 feet above street level. The square will also feature café-style seating, a la Broadway Boulevard, which lies to the south.

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Describing the new Duffy Square as a "truly public amenity," David W. Dunlap of the Times wrote: "The best seats on Broadway are now absolutely free." Judging by the crowd Sunday afternoon, the public agrees.

More pics after the jump.

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Pedestrians are invited to sit for eating, sipping coffee, and crowd-watching.

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A commanding view of the Great White Way.

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And to the north: Nothing says "public realm" like a speeding Pontiac.

Photos: Brad Aaron 

  • Streetsman

    I think it’s beautiful and should garner lots of media attention, and praise from the design community. I love the stairs and the idea that there is permanent amphitheater-style public seating in Times Square.

    That said, this project cost a whopping $20 million for a ticket booth with a step roof. Half of that was paid by the city. Did we really need tinted structural glass? Do we really need geothermally heated seats? From the city’s perspective, is this $10 million well spent? Does it have to be opulent because it is in Times Square? I could think of some better ways to spend some of that $10M.

  • You get what you pay for. The heating is there to protect against ice and snow. $20 million for a what is essentially a new public park doesn’t seem that insane. It’s worth spending money on areas that are adding significantly (or could — in the case of streetscaping for blighted areas) to the public tax rolls.

    Sure… we should be spending money on a host of things. But that’s life. The tkts booth is a prominent and important feature to the development of the Times Square neighborhood over the last 30 years. The area is a destination. And that demands a certain level of quality. And continued envelop pushing.

    All that aside, good post. Wish that the car snark had been left out of the post. We have to get over the idea in the U.S. that love of cars and car dependancy are the same thing. Some of those places that have the most liveable streets, the best transit and the least car ownership – France, being tops, but also Germany, England and Italy — are car lovers in ways that Americans would never understand: they love car design, car racing, and car engineering — a part of the national heritage of design and technological innovation. These are not inclusive of car dependancy. You can have both.

  • Streetsman

    That is an excellent point – I do agree that spending on amenities in areas that generate a lot of revenue for the city makes pretty good sense. Likewise, I wish more city projects would be on the cutting edge of design instead of being mired in mediocrity.

    That said, I can only have, at best, a restrained celebratory reaction to this project because the design was so lavish at the taxpayers’ expense.

    It is a stretch to me to consider this a public park, especially since it’s only about 3000 sf. At about $6500/sf, that is almost insane. Public spaces in New York are typically built in the $200-500/sf range, though admittedly they are shabbier than this. But a Herald Square-type treatment, with flowers and tables and chairs and real public life amenities would have cost a fraction of this and might have ultimately delivered better results from a livable streets and public life perspective, albeit less flashy.

  • rhubarbpie

    A major failing here: if this were a “truly public amenity” it’d be accessible to all. But wheelchair users and anyone who has trouble walking are completely shut out of the bleachers, where there is no accommodation of any kind. Kind of stunning for a $20 million project. And possibly illegal.

  • Great point rhubarbpie, I wish more designers would remember this.

    I still like it though. Even if it cost too much.

  • Emily J.

    Rhubarb pie, I was thinking the same thing. Too bad that such a cool addition to Times Square will be leaving many people out.

  • If the city foot the whole bill, I still wouldn’t be upset. Why try to figure it all out? Calculating it right down to the sq. ft? I mean really.

    It’s just awesome. A place to sit and eat in the middle of Times Square? That’s worth ten million.

    Yes, this is TIMES SQUARE. The world visits times square, not Hearald Square. Why compare it? It was worth every cent.

    Chris Edwards was right on the money, this is absolutey a destination.

  • Has no one complained about the blatant lack of handicaped accessibility? I just don’t feel it’s that attractive during the day but then again wonderful at night! It’s a cool free destination in New York.

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