Jürgen Mayer H. Speaks on Reactivating Public Space in Times Square and Beyond

As founder and principal at J. MAYER H. und Partner, Architekten, Jürgen Mayer H. is an expert at building provocative structures that actively engage and often inspire the public. So it’s no surprise that he gathered quite a crowd to the Center for Architecture on 08.23.16 for a lecture in partnership with Times Square Arts, which commissioned a public lounge by Mayer that opened the following day. Pinpointing the talk’s theme, Mayer said, “There is a specific articulation that comes from a location that can be reinterpreted in new ways, making it relevant design for the public.”

His latest project’s title, XXX TIMES SQUARE WITH LOVE, hints not only at the lounge’s location at the intersection of the “Crossroad of the World” at Broadway and 7th Avenue in New York, but also at the district’s colorful past as a hub for X-rated films. “It has the ability to really reference what our seedy past is, but not literally, and yet quite literally because of the letters,” explained Sherry Dobbin, creative director at Times Square Alliance. “It references modern language and how Triple-X was then appropriated to become lower-case ‘xxx’ as kisses, or love.” Starting 08.24.16, six X-shaped seats will punctuate the Times Square intersection between 43rd and 44th Streets, accompanied by signage explaining a Snapchat geo filter that asks loungers to take photos of themselves and share them on social media. Praising Mayer’s artful balance of history and present, Dobbin added: “The seats are personal and intimate, yet you also have to share them with three other people. It’s shiny, it’s bright, yet it’s simple and considerate.”

Before previewing the Times Square Arts project, Mayer zoomed in on perhaps his most famous work: Metropol Parasol, the 2011 redevelopment of the Plaza de la Encarnación in Seville, Spain. Speaking to the power of design to move beyond its context, he went on to illustrate the pavilion’s cultural appropriation in advertisements for car manufacturers and tourism campaigns. He also touched on his other recent international projects, including 2015’s Pavilion KA300 in Karlsruhe, Germany; his current Volt Berlin project combining retail, hospitality, and lifestyle, slated for 2017; and a 2015 college seminar building for FOM Hochscule für Oekonomie & Management University of Applied Sciences in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Watch our video of the lecture on Facebook for more.