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My, How Time (Square) Flies

Designers turn to an innovative tile-over-tile installation system to overcome time and budget constraints in the renovation of the Hilton Times Square.


By Ron Treister | Photography by David Archambault

My, How Time (Square) Flies

Interesting fact: Times Square wasn’t always called Times Square.

In early 1904, New York Times publisher, Adolph Ochs, moved the newspaper’s operations to a dynamic new skyscraper on 42nd Street in an area known as Longacre Square. From there, he persuaded Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. to construct a subway station right at that location. Shortly thereafter, on April 8th, 1904, the area was renamed Times Square.

From that day on, the neighborhood in Midtown Manhattan has continued to change and evolve. One of its latest evolutions comes exactly 109 years after the square first came to be, as Sunstone Hotel Investors, owner of the Hilton Times Square, embarked on a major renovation of its 540 guestrooms.

“We wanted to incorporate a timeless, unique design that would have a minimum impact on the occupancy of the property,” recalls George Hensen, Sunstone’s vice president of design and construction. It was for that reason that Sunstone contracted with Flick-Mars, a Dallas-based firm specializing in hospitality design. The company’s creative philosophy centers around designing unique guest experiences centered in a location’s indigenous surroundings, and the Hilton’s iconic location provided many options for the team to tap.

“We like to tell a story of the place,” says Matt Mars, architect and partner with the firm. “In doing so, guests will experience some of the locality’s visuals, and quite possibly some of its history, right in their rooms. At the same time, we want the rooms to be calming. Whereas there is so much energy and activity outside of the Hilton Times Square, the guestrooms should be a respite. For example, we want the room experience to be unique, similar to living in New York, rather than visiting New York.”

Kathy Moran, senior associate at Flick-Mars, was the lead designer on the project and tasked with researching the area’s rich history.

“My first course of action was to check up on the history of Times Square,” she says. “I found out how the New York Times influenced the area, and thus incorporated a printing theme into my designs.”

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