Creating a Love Connection in the Heart of Times Square

Times Square Valentine Heart X
By IAM Lab Guest Contributor Suchi Reddy

In July 2018, our architecture and design studio, Reddymade, was invited along with seven other firms, to compete in the tectonic contemplation of a quintessential emotiona feeling that has the power to move mountains, make miracles happen, and bind city and communityLOVE.

The Times Square Challenge

The brief, created by the Times Square Alliance and AIA New York, was to design a sculpture in the heart of New York City, at Times Square, that responded to the following:

“Justice is what love looks like in public. Tenderness is what love feels like in private.” – Dr. Cornel West

Every day, 350,000 pedestrians pass through Times Square, crossing paths with countless strangers from all walks of life, from New York City, across the country, and around the world. How can the Times Square Valentine Heart embrace various expressions of love, inviting the public to contemplate what it means to love individually and collectively? Can the installation generate connections, igniting conversations that articulate our aspirations as individuals, as a city, a nation, and beyond?

The challenge was timely given that urban loneliness is emerging as a public health issue. And so we were inspired to focus the lens of our neuroaesthetic-based practice on the antidote to lonelinessconnection.

Our Approach

Our winning entry, “X”, explored connection in three dimensions, examining intersecting shapes and planes.

Our search for simplicity in this process revealed the form of our proposal: two converging planes that together make an iconic X, which, when met at their intersection by a cylindrical volume, create a heart-shaped space.

For us, the message is: At the meeting of difference and division, when justice, equality and democracy are inserted, love can be created.

Responding both to the nature of the site and the way we communicate love, our iconic X shape symbolizes the intersection of the world and the city of New York that Times Square represents. The X has has been the universal symbol for a kiss since 1813, ending affectionate messages, love letters, heartfelt notes, cards and emails all over the world. The X is the mark of a vote, of democracy and the freedom of choice for the individual. It also playfully references the vestigial XXX history of Times Square.

The “X” Experience

Expressed as an 18-foot-tall X shape (symbolizing difference), intersected by an ellipse (signifying unity), resulting in a heart at its center, our sculpture creates a space of connection. Equipped with sensors that cause it to glow brighter as more people approach and inhabit it, the X expresses the collective power of love.

As the public engages with the sculpture and steps on the platform of the X, the heart and the edges light up. The more people that inhabit the space, the brighter the light. Along the visible interior, words are inscribed, as if on the inner band of a wedding ring, to be discovered as the viewer approaches the work.

“INTO DIFFERENCE, ADD EQUALITY, FIND LOVE.”

And to never forget the healing power of humor, “DON’T FORGET THE FLOWERS.”

Materially, the structure is reflective and luminous. The X will glow, being a powerful, playful, easily recognizable contribution to love in New York and the meaning of Love in public space.

X is for Love.

 

 

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This article was contributed by IAM Lab partner and friend, Suchi Reddy. Architect Suchi Reddy founded Reddymade, her diverse architecture and design practice, with a human-centric approach to design, one that assesses the economic, social, environmental and cultural impacts of her work on both people and planet.

Architecture Design Neuroaesthetics Sculpture