‘Turnstyle’ is an underground retail development in New York City that has transformed a heavily traversed existing passageway into a vibrant public space for shopping, eating, and gathering. Extending from west 57th to 58th street, below eighth avenue and above the subway train tunnel, the 200 foot-long concourse connects the busy Columbus circle station to multiple sidewalk entries and office building lobbies.
Through the design Architecture Outfit sought to bring a familiar street-level urbanism into the subterranean space. The project aims to appreciate occupying the infrastructure under the city as a special experience by first stripping away the familiar MTA paraphernalia and then showing-off the remaining raw condition of the beams and vaults with the most basic interventions: white paint and light. Meanwhile, new functional pieces intentionally defer to existing infrastructure and reference classic subway elements.
The new spine enclosure — with laser-cut pattern openings derived from subway tiles — organizes, but does not attempt to hide pipes, conduits, and other devices. A black floor tile arranged in a herringbone pattern makes a durable walking surface, which loosely references the gustavino tiles in grand central station. Custom ‘light pipes’ at entry ceilings are perforated tubes around LED strips, which are integrated with existing station conduits — further blurring the line between architecture and infrastructure.
34 small store spaces lining the concourse provide tenant diversity, while store type ‘zoning’ distinguished with distinct storefronts and sign types breaks-up the monotony of the long passageway. ‘Hot spots’ are identified with colorful flooring, kiosks, and tables, offering places to eat, talk, or shop. interactive digital columns, as physical objects and in their digital curation, further contribute towards the vitality of the space.
Photography: Ty Cole