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Thread: New TKTS Booth and Duffy Square - by John Choi and Tai Ropiha / Perkins Eastman

  1. #1

    Default New TKTS Booth and Duffy Square - by John Choi and Tai Ropiha / Perkins Eastman

    August 10, 2003


    No Opening Night Yet for a New TKTS Home


    A Broadway production: a razzle-dazzle overture, and then nothing to see, long after the curtain was expected to rise.

    In February 2000, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani announced a design for a new structure to replace the concoction of trailers, pipes and canvas that houses the popular TKTS booth in Times Square.

    New Yorkers and visitors have been lining up at the booth to buy discount theater tickets for 30 years. But its operator, the Theater Development Fund, and Times Square civic leaders and city officials have long agreed that something more imposing and imaginative should house the TKTS operation. They also agree that Duffy Square, the square-within-a-square traffic island of tired pavement and subway gratings on which TKTS stands, should be spruced up to provide a finer setting for it, and for the island's two statues.

    They are of the Rev. Francis P. Duffy, the heroic World War I Army chaplain and theater district priest, and George M. Cohan, the showman and composer. So, three and a half years ago, the design for a new TKTS home was unveiled.

    Today it is still no more than an idea, though its advocates insist that it will yet materialize, along with a more attractive Duffy Square.

    "I hoped at the time we would get it done a year and a half later," John F. Breglio, chairman of the Theater Development Fund, said last week of the planned TKTS structure, which is to house a roomier sales area tucked into a 16-foot-high bright red grand staircase. The splashy steps are envisioned as bleacher seats for viewing the surrounding bustle.

    But the September 2001 terrorist attack put the project on the back burner, Mr. Breglio said. His own group, he said, had to deal with matters like finding a new site for its downtown TKTS operation, which had been in the World Trade Center. It is now at the South Street Seaport.

    And a plan to finance the Times Square construction and the Duffy Square rehabilitation has still not been drawn up. But Mr. Breglio said his group was focusing on devising a plan, in cooperation with the Times Square Business Improvement District and the Coalition for Father Duffy.

    Tim Tompkins, president of the improvement district, said about $6 million was needed.

    The chairman of the Coalition for Father Duffy, Joseph A. Healey, expressed impatience with the pace of progress. He said the planned new TKTS home would be a better backdrop for the priest's statue, which he described as visually lost amid the "erector set" jumble of today's booth. "But progress," he said, "has been slow and torturous."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

    Default No Opening Night Yet for a New TKTS Home

  3. #3

    Default No Opening Night Yet for a New TKTS Home

  4. #4
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Garden City, LI

    Default No Opening Night Yet for a New TKTS Home

    Gotta love seeing people flowing into the streets and oncoming traffic.

  5. #5


    April 7, 2004

    A Face-Lift for the Square Within Times Square


    Maj. Gen. Joseph Healey, left, Victoria Bailey and Tim Tompkins, who are guiding the makeover of Duffy Square, in front of the statue of Father Francis Patrick Duffy and the TKTS discount ticket booth.

    Here it is, the eve of the hundredth anniversary of the place where the walls seem to be all neon, all the time. The place that went from that kiss on V-J Day to all that depravity and danger. The place that then cleaned itself up in time for the party when the calendar rolled over from 1999 into 2000. The crossroads of the world.

    Times Square's birthday is tomorrow. On April 8, 1904, Mayor George McClellan signed a resolution changing the name of Long Acre Square. The first "Times Square" sign went up three weeks later, on a bank at 46th Street and Broadway. The signs in the subway, whose commissioners had first suggested the name change, followed.

    Fast forward to the Times Square Alliance, the nonprofit group that recently changed its name from the Times Square Business Improvement District. Its mission in the 1990's, said Tim Tompkins, its president, was about working to make Times Square "clean, safe and fun'' - and spreading the word that it was.

    "That was the mantra,'' he said the other day. "In almost every way, that's been achieved, as opposed to dirty, dangerous and terrifying.''

    To Mr. Tompkins, the question is: Now what? For starters, he is planning a makeover of the square within the square. That would be Duffy Square, the triangle between West 47th Street, Broadway and Seventh Avenue. The project would bring an amphitheater with illuminated red steps to the square and give the TKTS ticket booth a permanent home for the first time since it opened 31 years ago - now as then, it occupies two trailers. The makeover is being planned with the Theater Development Fund, which runs the ticket booth, and the Coalition for Father Duffy, a group led by a retired Army general who is concerned that the square's namesake is too often forgotten there.

    The design was chosen in a competition overseen by the Van Alen Institute. Raymond Gastil, the institute's executive director, said that the assignment was, in effect, to "create a new icon for the crossroads of the world.'' Some 683 architects and designers tried, he said.

    The winner, by the Australian architects John Choi and Tai Ropiha, "looks out at the spectacle rather than creating another spectacle of itself, which I thought was a very sharp observation,'' Mr. Gastil said. "It recognized what Duffy Square was as a place and what it could be.''

    Since the competition, two firms with offices in New York - William Fellows Architects and Perkins Eastman - have worked on translating the design into buildable plans.

    Victoria Bailey, the executive director of the theater fund, said the changes would make Duffy Square "a pedestrian-friendly gathering place for everyone in Times Square as well as serving theatergoers.''

    The planning was not without its tensions. The leader of the Coalition for Father Duffy, Maj. Gen. Joseph Healey, said he had once called the TKTS booth "sort of like an erector set.'' "They weren't happy with me calling it that,'' he said, referring to officials from the theater fund. Nor were they happy when General Healey, who retired from the Army in 1990, said the name of the place was Duffy Square, not TKTS Square. Sure, General Healey said, the TKTS booth had become a well-known destination. But it also looked like a "junkyard'' where Father Duffy was too easily forgotten.

    So who was Father Francis Patrick Duffy? A military chaplain cited for bravery in World War I, for carrying wounded soldiers from the battlefield. He later became rector of Holy Cross Church, a few steps from the square that was named for him after his death in 1932.

    A statue of Father Duffy went up in 1937. It was paid for by private donations, many from World War I veterans. General Healey - a former commander of unit with which Father Duffy served, the Fighting 69th - said it would have to be moved while the amphitheater is being built. The goal is for construction to begin next winter, and for the project to be paid for with between $2.5 million and $3 million from the three groups, along with about $1.4 million from the city, state and federal governments. Mr. Tompkins said that leaves between $3 million and $4 million to be raised.

    "Duffy Square will be to the rest of Times Square as Bethesda Fountain was to Central Park - the first element of the reconstruction of the park,'' Mr. Tompkins said.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  6. #6

    Thumbs up

    UM...yea, finally:


    July 11, 2005

    Duffy Square to be rebuilt

    The Times Square Alliance won the $5 million in city funds it needs to rebuild Duffy Square.

    The alliance will spend a total of $12.5 million to widen the square, build an all-glass TKTS booth with amphitheater seating on top and upgrade the plaza with granite.

    Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2006.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Law & Order
    The TKTS Booth has got to be one of the worst things I have seen in New York.
    The new one is a very good use of a small space.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by Stern
    The new one is a very good use of a small space.
    Agreed. The design isn't all that interesting or impressive, but it's very functional and its not an eye sore. I think that's the best you can do under the circumstances.

  9. #9

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by greenie
    Agreed. The design isn't all that interesting or impressive, but it's very functional and its not an eye sore. I think that's the best you can do under the circumstances.
    Entirely agree. The design is understated which says alot admist the temptations to capture the hustle and bustle of Times Square, it was resisted through the building's strong character. At the same time it adhere's to the Times Square aesthetic not through a literal architecture, but through a living architecture, its the colorful people and how they make use of the space that will set this building apart.

  10. #10


    My fear is that the stairs, rather than blending seamlessly into their environment as those at Piccadilly Circus do, will look like a cheap gimmick set haphazardly in the midst of the square. It certainly seems so from the aerial view presented in the rendering. At the very least, though, it will finally be a concession to pedestrian culture in a crowded area all too dominated by auto traffic.

  11. #11


    Speaking of TKTS, is it true if you go after 6:30 youll get seats in the front of the theater? Due to the show not wanting them to go un-sold?

  12. #12


    In the renderings the steps remind me of the roof of a fast food joint..... all shiney and red. And I´m wondering what they´re going to look like with trash and snow on them... probably sad.

  13. #13
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Quote Originally Posted by NewYorkYankee
    Speaking of TKTS, is it true if you go after 6:30 youll get seats in the front of the theater? Due to the show not wanting them to go un-sold?
    House seats (those seats set aside by the management), if unused, are released by the theatre box office (usually sometime around 6:30 PM) and sent over to TKTS. So if a pair of 5th row center seats is not claimed by a producer, star , etc. then some lucky soul can get the tix at the TKTS price.

    I've gone @ 7PM and found fantastic seats availabe. Of course you do run the risk of no house seats being released for that particular day, but if you don't like what's offered you can always go to the movies.

    TKTS is one of the great amenities of NYC. Can't wait for them to get their well-deserved new home.

  14. #14


    May 2, 2006
    Opening on Broadway Soon, a New Look for TKTS and Father Duffy Square

    Remember back at the turn of the century when they were going to replace the perennially temporary TKTS booth in Duffy Square with a brand new pavilion topped by a ruby-red spectators' bleacher overlooking the theater district?

    They still are. But now, seven years into the planning, the city and theater-district groups are going to rehabilitate Duffy Square, too: expanding its edges for a 37 percent gain in space, repaving it with illuminated panels set into granite and tearing down the fence around the statue of the Rev. Francis P. Duffy.

    On the occasion of Father Duffy's 135th birthday, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is to preside at a groundbreaking today for the $12.5 million project. A truly temporary TKTS booth opened nearby yesterday at the Marriott Marquis Hotel.

    Crowning the new Duffy Square will be a glass staircase to nowhere, 27 steps high (three more than in the three broad staircases in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art). With room for more than 1,000 people to sit on the staircase, it would be a kind of public amphitheater to the spectacle of Times Square immediately to the south.

    "I think it's going to be New York's Spanish Steps," said Brendan Sexton, an adviser to the Coalition for Father Duffy, who was a member of the jury that chose the design for the new TKTS booth in 1999. He was also the president of what is now called the Times Square Alliance.

    The current president, Tim Tompkins, jumped in to add, "The Spanish Steps on steroids."

    The alliance, which runs the business improvement district, envisions a new Duffy Square as the keystone in its plan to improve street life in the overcrowded Broadway-Seventh Avenue vortex. "There is so much clutter in Times Square, this will be a striking shift," Mr. Tompkins said. "Finally, there'll be a place where you can sit down and look."

    The Theater Development Fund, which runs the TKTS discount ticket program, hopes that people who flock to this new gathering place will also become theatergoers.

    "I imagine a person sitting there having lunch and saying, 'What's going on here?' " said Victoria Bailey, the executive director. Perhaps that person would end lunch hour at one of the 12 windows in the new fiberglass TKTS booth tucked under the staircase at 47th Street. "We'll be able to sell much more efficiently," Ms. Bailey said.

    There are 10 windows in the current setup, which consists of two trailers surrounded by a network of pipes and sail-like vinyl panels emblazoned with huge red t's and k's and s's. This was designed by Mayers & Schiff in 1973 as a temporary measure. It is now old enough to be eligible for landmark status.

    Indeed, some of the panels may be acquired by the Museum of the City of New York, said Veronica Claypool, the managing director of the fund.

    The architects of the new TKTS pavilion and Duffy Square are Perkins Eastman and William Fellows Architects, working from a concept by two Australian architects, John Choi and Tai Ropiha, who won a 1999 competition sponsored by the Van Alen Institute.

    "The whole intent was to take the essence of that concept and make a glowing, floating, red amphitheater," said Nicholas S. Leahy, a principal in Perkins Eastman.

    The steps will be made of three-layer laminated glass panels, one-and-a-half inches thick. They will be 45 feet wide at the top, tapering to 32 feet. The treads will be two feet deep, almost twice as deep as those at the Met. Panels under the steps will supply heat to melt snow and cooling for the light-emitting diodes that will illuminate the entire staircase. Glass panels will border the edges.

    Given that a seated person typically occupies about two square feet, the steps could conceivably hold more than 1,000 people.

    The top of the steps will be 16 feet above the sidewalk, as high as the current pipe structure and just slightly lower than the top of the Celtic cross that is a backdrop to the statue of Father Duffy. That was important to the Father Duffy coalition.

    Father Duffy, who died in 1932, was most famously chaplain to the Fighting 69th Regiment in World War I. He was also pastor of Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church at 329 West 42nd Street.

    Bruce Meyerson, who served in the 69th Regiment as a first lieutenant and is now chairman of the coalition, said he was pleased with the overall plan for Duffy Square. "The entire site works," he said. "Everything blends together."

    It took a lot of mixing to blend.

    Construction was supposed to begin in 2000. Then the leadership of the Theater Development Fund changed hands. Then terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center, slowing down many projects in the city and affecting the theater fund more directly, because it had a booth at the trade center. The downtown TKTS booth has since reopened in the South Street Seaport.

    Then, as the concept was translated into real plans, the fund incorporated the needs of the alliance, which wanted a better streetscape, and those of the coalition, which wanted a better setting for the Father Duffy statue. Then there was give and take with New York City Transit and the City Department of Transportation.

    Then the financing had to be cobbled together: $5.5 million from the mayor's office, $4 million from the City Council, $1.5 million from the alliance, $1 million from the fund and $500,000 from the coalition.

    The project now seems to be under way. And because the major structural elements are prefabricated, the completion date is not too distant.

    "It is our intent and hope to have it ready for Dec. 31st," Mr. Tompkins said. He meant 2006.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

  15. #15
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    ...repaving it with illuminated panels set into granite...

    "It is our intent and hope to have it ready for Dec. 31st," Mr. Tompkins said. He meant 2006.
    Wow, a project in NY that actually gets completed in the same year it got started in. A pleasant surprise.

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