The new TKTS booth and the redevelopment of Father Duffy Square create a new center for Times Square, one of the world’s most popular and iconic destinations. The project began in 1999 with an international design competition (sponsored by the Van Alen Institute) to re-design the popular TKTS booth at the heart of Times Square. While the competition brief simply requested designs for a small scale architectural structure to replace the existing ticket booth, Australian firm Choi Ropiha reframed the problem as one requiring a broader urban design response to invigorate and provide a center for Times Square.
PKSB was brought on as the Plaza Architect to address the broader public realm and integration of the booth into the context of Times Square. The basic intention was to take back the center and reorient the pedestrian to encompass the entirety of Duffy Square. What was once a cramped triangle at a dangerous crossroads in now a generous public square. This was the first endeavor to create a viable public space within the competitive commercial area.
The success of the project is a testament to the fact that through good design and a commitment to the public realm, a variety of client groups—public, private, and commemorative organizations—can come together to achieve richer outcomes. Through this effort, the function and the identity of the TKTS Booth has been expanded and its position strengthened as a key New York destination for tourists and local theatergoers alike.
After the project was completed, PKSB went on to explore the nature of public space within a commercial setting through conceptual renderings and conversations with the Parks Department and Times Square Alliance. These explorations focused on activating the ground plane and reprogramming the iconic billboard advertisements. The ground surface in Times Square had previously been ignored or overshadowed by the iconic bright lights and neon signage. The success of Father Duffy led to radically re-thinking the streetscape throughout Broadway and gave way to the highly successful pedestrian plazas which have transformed the area.