Times Square Municipal Art Society CompetitionMosaic 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.

Times Square that Never Was Skyscraper museum gilbert gorskiGilbert Gorsky’s Plan for Times Square

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.

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-William SloanWilliam Sloan

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.

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-David SuterDavid Suter

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-Frank Lupo-Daniel Rowen-Karen MaloofFrank Lupo and Daniel Rowen with Karen Maloof

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-George RanalliGeorge Ranalli

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-Jaime Gonzales-Goldstein-Martin MaurinJaime Gonzales-Goldstein and Martin Maurin

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-Lee DunnetteLee Dunnette

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-Paul Bentel-Carol RuschePaul Bentel and Carol Rusche

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-Richard Haas Judish Dimaio William Palmore

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-Taeg NishimotoTaeg Nishimoto

Times Square Municipal Art Society Competition-William Schacht Cassandra McGowenWilliam Schact and Cassandra McGowen

See more from our NYC That Never Was series, like the alternative plans for Central Parkoriginal design for the George Washington Bridge and the many fantastical buildings never built in NYC


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