Architecture firm Snøhetta has completed its redesign of New York's Times Square, almost doubling the pedestrian areas at the busiest place in the US.
Officially opening today, the project involved the urban reconfiguration and landscaping of 5.18 acres (2.1 hectares) at the "bowtie"-shaped intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
Home to many theatres and attractions, and the world-famous illuminated billboards, the area is a major tourist hub and receives 45 million visitors each year.
"Although Times Square has remained popular over the years, its popularity over the years had made it somewhat unsafe, polluted and sometimes uninviting," Snøhetta partner Craig Dykers told journalists at the opening event. "To some people it lost its authenticity."
The Norwegian-American firm has pedestrianised a large section of Broadway from 42nd to 47th Street, creating five plazas between each of the cross streets.
The project also involved widening the sidewalks along 7th Avenue, in total nearly doubling the amount of pedestrian space since 2000.
"On average, 330,000 people move through Times Square every day," said the studio. "Understanding the magnitude of these crowds and patterns of movement was fundamental to creating a successful new life for one of the most iconic public spaces in the world."
"[The] design creates uncluttered pedestrian zones and a cohesive surface that reinforces the Bowtie's role as an outdoor stage."
The ground is covered with precast concrete pavers in two different finishes. Steel discs embedded into some of the slabs reflect the lights from the giant billboards above.
Across the site, a set of 10 long granite benches measuring between 30 and 50 feet in length are embedded with electrical plug points for broadcasting purposes.
Five variations of shape for the street furniture were created to encourage members of the public to use them as needed.