The Sheepdog of Times Square: Snøhetta in New York

Far Rockaway Library | Rendering courtesy of Snøhetta and Doug and Wolf

Could an international firm beginning work in the United States pick two more difficult sites than Times Square and the World Trade Center? Those have been two of Snøhetta’s first assignments in the US, putting the Norwegian firm one National Mall shy of nightmare building site bingo.

It’s a tribute to Snøhetta’s dexterous designs that the firm has — so far, at least — managed to stay clear of the critical fracas in both of those places.

At the World Trade Center, Snøhetta’s crystalline pavilion provides an entry point to the underground 9/11 Memorial Museum. It’s a dazzling little building on its own, and a modest, human-scale addition to a field of megaprojects.

At Times Square, Snøhetta has rebuilt Broadway’s asphalt as a level plaza of concrete pavers, scattered with tiny steel discs that reflect the light like fallen coins. Long, granite slabs provide flexible seating arrangements and a cue for pedestrian movement. “As architects, I think, we have to try to be like the sheepdog at the party,” Dykers told the New Yorker in 2013. The benches house power outlets and other links for events. It’s an intervention that maintains the square’s openness to passersby, idlers, tourists, and hawkers — and now appears to be under threat from a tabloid-induced panic about the hazards of public space. (If Snøhetta was a sheepdog, the new proposal is a pen.)

Times Square Reconstruction | Courtesy Snøhetta

Times Square Reconstruction | Courtesy Snøhetta

On Wednesday, April 20th, join The Architectural League and The Cooper Union for a Current Work lecture by Craig Dykers, founding principal at Snøhetta, and Elaine Molinar, head of Snøhetta’s New York office. (The two are also husband and wife.) Their conversation, moderated by Nader Tehrani, dean of Cooper Union’s Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, will touch on the firm’s global portfolio, which includes the Alexandria Library in Egypt and a new wing of San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art, which opens in May. Closer to home, the firm has designed the new Far Rockaway Public Library in Queens, which has been awarded the Annual Award for Excellence in Design by the New York City Public Design Commission.

Visit the League’s website for more information on Snøhetta and the upcoming lecture.

Current Work Lecture: Craig Dykers and Elaine Molinar
Moderated by Nader Tehrani
1.5 AIA and New York State CEUs
Organized and presented by The Architectural League and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union

Time & Place
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
7:00 p.m.
The Great Hall, The Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street

Tickets are free for League members; $15 for non-members. Members may reserve a ticket by e-mailing: Non-members may purchase tickets here beginning April 13. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door, cash only, space permitting.

Urban Omnibus is a project of The Architectural League of New York and regularly posts about content from the League website we think would be of interest to UO readers.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.