CNBC has a screamer, clickbait-y headline up about a new NYC Times Square building that, like every other building in Times Square, will be clad down low with LED modules.
Times Square is about to get a new 46-story tower that is basically a giant LED billboard on one side
Well, no … not really. It is ambitious, but this ain’t China, at least not yet. A corner of the TSX Broadway building, rising up many feet, will have LEDs, but by no means a whole side of the building.
According to David Orowitz, a senior vice-president at developer L&L Holding Company, the entire building will be like a giant advertisement for one of the most-visited places in the world, with around 380,000 pedestrians walking through it each day.
“The whole building is essentially (an advertising) sign, and the side that is facing Times Square is a single sign comprised of LEDs into the building itself that runs up the entire 46-story building,” he said in an email to CNBC.
Now that preparation for the demolition of the hotel is under way, executives are at work finding an advertiser that will help it recoup some of the $2.5 billion it has raised for the new building, set to open in early 2022. And it has hired Andrew Essex, a former ad exec and CEO of the Tribeca Film Festival, to negotiate a deal with a single customer to advertise on the behemoth, including the naming rights to the building, the retail and entertainment spaces and the billboards.
NYC real estate developers have been known to stretch the truth – especially this guy – so it is no shock that the developer is torquing the story a bit. The concept drawings clearly show a bottom, wraparound LED display on the corner of 47th Street at Broadway and Seventh Avenue. This board is 18,000 sq. ft. of LED display. There is also an “LED crown” at the top of the building – effectively billboards on the four sides of roof, likely obscuring mechanical rooms and equipment. The crown is a NYC first, but something that has been done in several cities. Johannesburg MAY have been the first.
One side of the building does indeed have LED lights, but the pixel pitch would be measured in meters, not millimeters. It could do accent lighting but no way is it at a resolution to do anything approximating a proper LED board.
That said, the TSX Broadway plan is impressive. I like how a performance stage is built into the LED wall. Quite clever and it will probably get a lot of use, if the cost is not too insane.
The building website does not go into technical partners, but you can bet D3 and Sansi – which already have big boards in Times Square – are chasing this, as will other other companies like Daktronics and no end of Chinese manufacturers. There’s always the chance it is already locked up.
The lower screen is very big, but not the biggest even in the immediate area. I am pretty sure the LED board that ate Times Square, on the Marriott Marquis, still has the BIG title, at more than 25,000 sq. ft.
The project is still being pitched right now. There is a Doubletree and a theatre on that corner right now.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.