Perkins Eastman Architects — In the heart of New York City’s Times Square, the new TKTS booth is a marvel of structural and material innovation and has become an instant civic magnet in one of the world’s busiest public spaces. These qualities take it beyond its main purpose, which is to sell same-day discount tickets to performances on and off Broadway.
Inspired by a competition-winning scheme by Australian architect Choi Ropiha, the building was conceived as a kind of outsized vending machine—one that would generate a public brand of theater of its own. Passersby can stop to lounge upon a broad flight of lighted red glass steps that sweep upward across its roof, providing a generous, groovy perch for people-watching and taking in the excellent diverging views down Broadway and Seventh Avenue.
Most of the building’s structure is made of glass, using advanced materials engineering and off-site prefabrication that allowed extremely heavy load-bearing glass wall pieces to be dropped into place during construction with minimal disruption to the building’s hectic surroundings.
Also, in considering the extraordinary site, the architects employed geothermal ground-source heat and prepackaged mechanical systems to reduce the amount of heavy equipment needed to keep the building running. The heating system is energy efficient but offers a way to melt snow on the stair treads. The treads are lit 24 hours a day by the glow of red LEDs, which are expected to last seven years.
The jury members were unanimous in their praise of this project, whose inventiveness surpasses its purpose in numerous unexpected ways. “It leverages the public space of a major city,” said Aaron Betsky. And Carlos Jimenez called it “tiny, but so consistent.” Marion Weiss said, “It’s a really productive building, and the solution is amazing.” At its heart, “it’s simply about signage,” she remarked. “It’s an inhabitable sign.”