Week of Walks #2: Sustainable Times Square

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Thanks to SVA’s Interaction Design MFA program and Worldstudio, Monday’s walk began at the still-scaffolded Bank of America Tower, where we talked about sustainability as it relates to environmentally-responsible architecture as well as people and communities. Besides being home to several of the city’s first green buildings, Times Square is one of the most progressive neighborhoods in the world. And I have to say right now–since so many people have asked me–that this is definitely one of my very favorite places in New York, especially since they’ve closed the street, hauled in some chairs, and made it a true Times Square.

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See? Look how excited I am about Times Square! Behind me is the amazing Glenn Weiss, director of public art and urban planning for Times Square Alliance, who joined us for the tour. He revealed to a surprised crowd that the seemingly-cacophonous Times Square is actually a very tightly-choreographed urban planning phenomenon, thanks to 42nd Street Now!, a massive redevelopment act authored by Robert A.M. Stern and Tibor Kalman in 1992 that preserved the neighborhood’s character (indeed, one of the most sustainable steps a community can take).

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Certain buildings are required to emit a certain level of light (don’t worry, everyone uses LEDs). And signage is actually supposed to be visually-representative of what people can find within (hence, say, the large apple on the Applebee’s). There’s the Reuters Building beyond the shell of a building located in the middle of Times Square. Yes, besides the Walgreens occuping the bottom few floors, the former Times Building’s only tenants are advertisers!

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Heading around the corner to the New York Times Building, we stepped inside to see one of my very favorite public art pieces, Moveable Type by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen. These screens strung throughout the New York Times lobby slurp up 158 years of the Times content and arranges them into witty couplets. Thanks to the Times’ Kristin Mason for talking about the piece and the building.

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And finally, a beautiful view of Renzo Piano’s “plaza” in the center of the New York Times Building, with full-grown trees that were lifted up over the building and into the courtyard via crane.

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Then we dashed over to the beautiful new SVA Interaction Design MFA HQ for snacks, Prosecco, gelato and great conversation. Thanks to Liz Danzico, Chris Fahey and Qing Qing Chen for hosting such a wonderful event, and thanks to Stephanie Aaron for the photos!

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