A renovation to One Times Square will add new curtain wall, observation deck, and immersive experiences

Every December 31 millions of Americans tune into televisions (or camp out all day on the street) to view the ball drop down the vertical face of One Times Square. The billboard-lined building is now undergoing a major renovation led by Jamestown, the building’s owner. The project entails a number of changes: the installation of a new curtain wall system and the addition of a new observation platform and digital signage. Interior spaces, which have remained un-leased for years, will be converted into immersive brand experiences and a museum which will relay the history of Times Square. Construction is expected to complete in 2025.

Initially built in 1904, One Times Square served as the headquarters of The New York Times. The construction of the building coincided with the renaming of Longacre Square, which was christened as Times Square to herald the arrival of the paper. New York City architect Cyrus L.W. Eidlitz designed the building with a highly ornamented facade in the neo-gothic style.

800px The New York Times Building at One Times Square
When it was first constructed, One Times Square towered over neighboring buildings. (Watson, Edward B. and Edmond V. Gillon, Jr. (1976). New York Then and Now (Mineola, N. Y.: Courier Dover Publications) ISBN: 9780486131061. p. 22./Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

Eventually The New York Times out grew the building, which was extremely narrow due to its siting at the intersection of Broadway, Seventh Avenue, and 42nd Street. The paper moved its headquarters out, but maintained the office building for back-of-house functions for many years.

In the 1960s the building was bought by Allied Chemical, who proceeded to remove One Times Square’s original facade, replacing it with pre-cast concrete panels.

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The building was reclad with precast concrete panels in the 1960s. (Yves le bail/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0 )

Over the next few years, the building would change hands frequently. During this time, the facade was slowly encased in advertising signage, and to this day remains one of the priciest physical advertising spaces in the world.

1024px A nightime image of Times Square in NYC
One Times Square has used digital signage since the beginning of the 21st century. (Bruce Emmerling/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0 )

In 2022 Jamestown commenced work on a renovation project to reclad the facade and construct a large observation platform, a la The Edge and One Vanderbilt.

Before the new curtain wall could be installed, the existing concrete panels had to be demolished. Once the underlying structure was exposed, it was possible to confirm the building’s slab edge conditions and devise a strategy for the installation of the new system.

The curtain wall will dramatically improve the building’s energy performance, and the project team is pursuing LEED Gold certification.

Catherine Pfeiffenberger, managing director of development and construction at Jamestown, told AN “Since [the building] was covered by the precast [panels], we couldn’t verify anything. You don’t know anything until it is actually exposed.”

The construction team opted to hang the system from the slab edge using clips.

A new curtain wall system is currently being installed on the facade of the building. (Courtesy Jamestown)

Un-glazed portions of the facade will provide space for new digital advertising screens.

On top of the tower, a 7-ton truss is being installed to support the new observation platform. The platform will wrap around the profile of the building and will be accessible via two glass elevators.

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The observation platform will capitalize on the high number of tourists which visit Times Square each year. (Courtesy Jamestown)

Curtain wall installation, managed by WW Glass, has been complicated by the simultaneous construction of the truss for the observation platform. Because of this, the facade has been installed in piecemeal segments.

The reclad project has also been coordinated around the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop. Fortunately, as owner of the building, Jamestown manages both the renovation as well as the events team which oversees the annual end-of-year festivities

Times Square Ball from above
On New Years Eve the ball drops from the top of One Times Square. (Anthony Quintano/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)

This past December, construction on the site was temporarily halted, and the ball-drop production crew were required to wear personal protective equipment. At midnight, fireworks were still shot off from the building.

Matthew McDonnel, vice president of development and construction at Jamestown, told AN “On [floor] 21 we had a station set up for pyrotechnics. All these things were done in coordination with the NYPD and FDNY to make sure that everything was in accordance with their requirements.”

Jamestown also had to get city approval to remove a crane from the job site for the celebration.

Pfeiffenberger added, “There’s a moratorium on touching your crane, but we got permission to take it down in mid-December. Otherwise it would have been hanging right next to the ball.”

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Render of the renovated One Times Square. (Courtesy Jamestown)

One Times Square’s northern elevation is clad in a large LED advertising screen. This screen remained has remained operational through the duration of construction.

The building’s interior spaces have long been unattractive to office tenants due to their small floor plate size—approximately 5,000 square meters—and lack of views, which are obstructed by facade signage. For this reason, the upper floors have sat vacant for years.

To overcome these limitations, Jamestown has conceived of a new immersive experience which will occupy the space. The first six floors of the building will be occupied by a museum which will tell the history of Times Square and the annual ball drop. The remaining floors will be occupied by a program called NextGen where companies will be invited to design “brand experiences.”

Perhaps one of the most heavily altered structures in New York, One Times Square’s latest round of renovations coincide with the building’s 100-year anniversary, taking ambitious strides to accommodate the latest advertising technologies.

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