A late capitalist fever dream is set to rise in Midtown, where a new hotel-slash-shopping-destination-and-concert-venue promises to bring 46 floors of fresh advertising opportunities to Times Square.
Developers behind TSX Broadway plan to take over the DoubleTree hotel at 47th Street and 7th Avenue, as well as the old Palace Theater. According to CBS 2 New York, they will refurbish both, deploying 40 jacks to "very slowly and carefully" ratchet up the theater 30 feet. Retail space below the theater will help fill the void, and the entire bottom of the building will be wrapped in an enormous LED screen.
A late-capitalist fever dream. (Renderings via)
From the spotlight-heavy renderings, it appears that guests and visitors will be able to party atop this screen, thanks to the addition of an outdoor terrace suspended above the city's loudest neighborhood—the perfect dining venue for anyone who would prefer not to hear a single thing their companion says. A permanent stage will jut out from the middle of the screen, for concerts...I guess...? Very few things about this design make intuitive sense to me, but one thing has been made clear:
"The entire building will be a sign, so we are going to build LED into the facade," David Orowitz, the senior vice president of L&L Holdings, part of the consortium of TSX Broadway's owners, told CBS 2. "Throughout Times Square you will be able to see messaging going up and down 580 feet."
Recently, the City Council moved to regulate the proliferation of "mechanical voids" that threaten to loft much of New York City on stilts, potentially closing the loophole that allows developers to build residential complexes atop giant blocks of blank space. Since Times Square isn't in one of the residential zones limited by the new law, TSX Broadway would presumably still be above board, even if developers didn't plan to fill the void with capitalism. It will also be expensive: The full project is set to cost $2.5 billion, with construction to be completed by 2022.
A press release announcing TSX Broadway said that the building "will provide a single brand with the most powerful marketing tool in the world," reportedly in part through the surreptitious sponging up of your data. Per Fast Company, the 75,000-square foot retail cavern comes "equipped with cameras, sensors, and Wi-Fi, all of which can be used to collect tons of consumer data on the millions of people that are expected to walk through the building each year."
Which I guess means that, in our dystopian urban future, the buildings will also be watching you. And you thought it was just the apps you had to worry about!