For tourists and New Yorkers a bold new way to get around the city.
Visitor centers, or good ones at least, are few and far between. So when NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing and tourism organization, approached WXY, a leading New York City architecture practice, to design the City’s new information center, the firm was hard pressed to find a fitting precedent. With little to guide them, WXY had to virtually start from scratch. The result is a pioneering design that reinvents the way visitors and residents will navigate the city.
Located on 7th Avenue, just north of Times Square, the new NYC Information Center opened its doors to the public on 21 January. The design, in collaboration with media design firm Local Projects, transforms a storefront into a bright and airy “information space” that seamlessly integrates media design and architecture to meet visitors at any level of engagement. Here visitors can interface with the latest digital technologies to create custom guidebooks they can take on the go, thus eliminating the need for printed brochures. Smart tables and touch screens allow visitors to get answers to the top 100 frequently asked questions in ten different languages, choose activities and map events. Once the custom guidebook is built, it can be easily emailed, printed out or sent to a cell phone. A dramatic element animating the Center’s back wall is a space dubbed “Fly NYC”, a large video wall with 16 high definition flat screen monitors, where visitors can influence each other as individual itineraries are projected on the wall as a personalized helicopter ride over the city.
“The invitation by NYC & Company to completely re-conceive the familiar visitor center experience was a complex challenge”, says WXY Architecture principal Claire Weisz. “Both visitors and natives of New York will benefit from these services well into the future”.