Mosaic of 6 entry boards for the Municipal Art Society competition. (Credits: William F Schacht & Cassandra Mcgowen, Richard Haas & Judith DiMaio, Gilbert Gorski, Frank Lupo & Daniel Rowen, Lee Dunnette, Jaime Gonzales-Goldstein & Martin Maurin, George Ranalli, Paul Bentel & Carol Rusche)
Now through January 2015, the Skyscraper Museum is presenting the exhibit Times Square 1984: The Postmodern Moment. The exhibit takes visitors back to the seedy, crime ridden, nostalgic Times Square of the late 1970s early 1980s. In 1984, the Municipal Art Society and the National Endowment for the Arts organized an alternative “ideas competition” for Times Square with a $10,000 prize, in reaction to a critically panned proposal by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. The request for proposals drew more than five hundred entrants and widespread press attention. The New York Times recently highlighted this new exhibit in a slideshow highlighting 20 of the boards museum director Carol Willis was able to track down.
The proposals ranged from the realistic and practical to the surreal and absurd; it was doubtful Times Square was ever going to be reconstructed in order to create a gigantic bowling alley, like the plan by William Sloan. Despite the fact that none of these designs were ever realized, they offer a glimpse into the process that, for better or worse, transformed Times Square into the pedestrian mecca it is today.
Most of the designs focused on the building at One Times Square, which today is a billboard-centric building–the emptiest building in Midtown but the most profitable.
Frank Lupo and Daniel Rowen with Karen Maloof
Jaime Gonzales-Goldstein and Martin Maurin
Paul Bentel and Carol Rusche
William Schact and Cassandra McGowen