19.

A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME

IN THE LATE SUMMER of 2001, a beautiful art object appeared in Times Square. This was, in itself, an almost unprecedented event. Works of art, in the form of plays, are regularly presented inside buildings in Times Square; but, considered as a physical entity, Times Square contains very little that is beautiful, or that even aspires to the status of art. And this new object was, in fact, a building, though it was, at the same time, a show. The building was a thirty-two-story office tower built for Morgan Stanley on the east side of Seventh Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. It was an attractive enough building, though scarcely interesting as architecture. The art object wasn’t the building, but its sign. Actually, it was hard to know how to characterize the relationship between the two— between the solid thing and the evanescent thing that played across its surface. In effect, the building was a sign, for imagery appeared, dissolved, and reassembled itself across the entire block-wide façade of the building and wrapped around either side, up to the twelfth-story setback.

The pictures had a wildly exaggerated pop vitality, as if Roy Lichtenstein had scripted the show. The best place to watch was from the street-side counter of the Starbucks across the way. There you could see immense red piggybanks performing a sort of piggybank shuffle; the dance gave way to a cascade of green apples bouncing down a chute. The piggybanks were of the reddest red, and the apples of the greenest green, you could imagine. The apples in turn gave way to a computer-animated image of a great suspension bridge soaring over a sparkling bay, and this in turn to an image of silhouettes walking down a long corridor, perhaps one inside the building itself. Words and numbers sometimes flashed on the screen—that is, on the building—but never the word “Morgan.” This was a sign, but not a billboard or a television commercial. The images bore an intentionally tangential, sometimes almost a mocking, relationship to their sponsor. The piggybanks and the apples constituted a wry, children’s-book version of the global marketplace in which Morgan operated.

Kevin Kennon, the architect chiefly responsible for the sign, was delighted to see that people would walk by the building, look up, startled, and then stand and stare, as they had half a century earlier, in the glory days of the spectacular. Kennon had hoped to design an idiom, or a medium, in which the new, corporate Times Square could express itself without blotting out the meanings that had made Times Square such an object of veneration. He had hoped to find a means by which an increasingly “virtual” Times Square could at the same time be thrillingly actual. And the reaction of those commuters and tourists told him that people wanted to be engaged, that they would stop and look if given something to stop and look at. But he also knew, like Aaron Beall, that he was pushing against the limits of his patron’s patience, taste, and budget. He was trying to move Times Square in a direction it was reluctant to go; to put it more optimistically, he was trying to shape Times Square while its direction was still an open question.

TIMES SQUARE HAS NEVER, in all its long history, had so many signs as it has today. Forty-second Street is bedecked with signs as it never was in the heyday of Erlanger and Klaw, and even the upper reaches of Times Square are dense with billboards. The 1987 zoning regulations forced developers to put up brightly lit signs, while Times Square’s rejuvenation filled it once again with the kind and number of people advertisers were eager to reach. The logic was no different than it had been in the twenties, when an adman had calculated that a spectacular could be erected for fourteen cents per thousand viewers; now, through some extremely creative math, Spectacolor, the largest sign company in Times Square, calculated that the cost-per-thousand of a Times Square sign was one-sixth to one-tenth that of a network television spot. For a brief period in the mid-nineties, Times Square signage had its own tulipmania. In 1995, a group of partners at Lehman Brothers stunned the real estate world by buying the Times Tower, essentially a nineteen-story signboard, from the Banque Nationale de Paris for $27 million. Within two years the building had been sold twice, each time for double the previous sum, so that the final price tag was an astounding $110 million.

But as signs increased in number and value, they became, inevitably, commodities—utilitarian articles designed to sell, not to dazzle. In an earlier day, the spectacular had been a medium of sheer virtuosity—the bigger, the brighter, the more wildly and improbably inventive, the better. O. J. Gude’s dazzling Spearmen, or Douglas Leigh’s Camel smoker, were something like the Super Bowl ads of their day—to be judged not by how much product they moved, but by how much glory they reflected on their sponsor. And in the days before television, how could any other advertising medium compete with a Times Square sign, either aesthetically or commercially? But that era was long gone by the 1990s. A few advertisers—Budweiser, Wrigley’s Gum, Planter’s Peanuts—returned to Times Square as a way of reminding viewers of past glories. But even Budweiser, according to Tama Starr, the third-generation chief executive of the venerable sign company Artkraft Strauss, couldn’t be bothered to use most of the fancy graphics on its sign on the Times Tower, which Artkraft Strauss had designed. Most of the signs in Times Square could have been transplanted easily enough to, say, the Queens entrance to the Midtown Tunnel.

By the 1980s, sign-making had ceased to be a form of handicraft. The old sign companies were gobbled up by huge billboard firms that were in turn owned by multinationals like Viacom or Clear Channel. Artkraft Strauss, which has been building signs in Times Square for a century, is the last survivor, and today it owns only a dozen locations in Times Square. Tama Starr is afflicted with a rather extreme, if understandable, sense of declinism. Leaving aside her own signs, she says, Times Square has been overtaken by “video and vinyl”: oversize screens showing commercials, and giant billboards of computer-printed vinyl, which can be discarded and replaced at a moment’s notice. Even the executives of Spectacolor, a company founded in 1976, suffer pangs of nostalgia for a golden age they had no role in shaping. “You have an explosion of inventory,” says Michael Forte, the company’s president and CEO, “but you also have a lost art of spectacularity.” Spectacolor’s fourth-floor boardroom looks across Broadway to the spot where some of Times Square’s most spectacular signs once stood—Wrigley’s wiggling fish, the Bond waterfall, the giant Pepsi bottles. Today there is a forest of bodacious—but very vinyl— blondes strutting their stuff for Pony and Liz Claiborne. Forte gazes through the boardroom’s picture window and says, with piercing regret, “To think that it went from that to this.”

Signs have been banalized; at the same time, the rise of the office tower in Times Square has posed new questions about the relationship of signage to architecture. The 1987 zoning changes forced developers to think about signage in new ways. A few Times Square developers immediately embraced the new aesthetic. One, Jeffrey Katz, built a black glass hotel at 2 Times Square, between 47th and 48th Street, and used the entire south façade, which looks straight down at the Times Tower, as a rack for a column of giant signs, precisely what it had been throughout the century. The developer William Zeckendorf hired Alan Lapidus, an architect whose father, Morris, had designed many of the glitziest hotels in Miami Beach, to build a hotel on the west side of Broadway between 47th and 48th; Lapidus worked closely with the City Planning Commission to design a structure that would conform to the new rules.

But a hotel is, of course, the rare example of a tall building designed to evoke the idea of pleasure and excitement. An office tower, on the other hand, is traditionally meant to conjure up power, solidity, integrity. And the commercial developers who had fought the new regulations in the first place were loath to submit to them. David Solomon, who was putting up an enormous building, without a guaranteed tenant, at the corner of Broadway and 47th, was genuinely horrified at the prospect of signage. Tama Starr, whom Solomon and his wife, Jean, had retained to design signage if it proved unavoidable, says, “Their idea of a sign was very retro; it was a seventies consciousness of the tawdry ‘HOTEL’ with the ‘E’ flickering because the transformer was out. They did not see signs as having any class whatsoever.” When the new rules were passed, the Solomons did their best to circumvent them. They worked with their architect, Charles Gwathmey, to create a system of lights and signs that would operate only at night; during the day, the building would look as solemn as a judge. Even at night the lights would be visible only from directly in front of the building. The City Planning Commission responded by amending the new zoning rules to specify that signs and lights must be visible during the day as well as at night. Times Square’s new corporate tenants would have to find a way to adapt to the place’s traditions, no matter how outlandish they seemed.

The Solomons ultimately lost the building, known as 1585 Broadway, to their lenders; in 1992, Morgan Stanley bought the property at a steep discount. The firm was profoundly skittish about Times Square; it was, in fact, so dubious about urban life generally that it was seriously thinking about moving its headquarters to Stamford, Connecticut, even though virtually the entire finance industry was concentrated in Manhattan. Now it had to find a way to live with Times Square, and with the Times Square zoning requirements. The bank had opposed the new zoning regulations as ardently as the Solomons had, if less publicly. As Susan Jarrett, now an executive director of Morgan Stanley, recalls, “The fact that there had to be any kind of sign—the fact that it had to be kinetic—the fact that it had to be neon—this was so anti-image for us.” (Actually, it had to be bright, but not necessarily neon.) Tama Starr, who continued to work on the building, says, “Their first question was ‘What’s the cheapest thing we can do?’ We said, ‘We can give you some cutout plastic letters and stick them on.’ And the answer was, ‘How much will that cost?’”

Morgan plainly had to find a way to incorporate signage that enhanced, rather than damaged, its identity. Charles Gwathmey says that he always favored the idea of placing some kind of signage on the building’s lower floors, among which would be trading floors that would not require windows. And Morgan officials, he says, put up very little resistance once they understood that the sign would serve not as an advertisement but as a new corporate emblem. Gwathmey’s central innovation was, he says, “to integrate the sign into the façade rather than try to make it additive.” He and the designer Massimo Vignelli came up with the idea of using financial information as a decorative motif—not, perhaps, the most far-reaching inspiration. The Morgan Stanley Building at 1585 Broadway has three bands of stock-ticker information, each ten to twelve feet high, running across the façade at different speeds. At either edge of the building are forty-four-foot-high cylindrical maps showing the time zones of Morgan Stanley’s offices across the world. Decorative fins elegantly spell out the building’s address. The bands themselves are sky-blue, and the data is the bright white of LEDs, or light-emitting diodes. The information comes from a real-time feed from the Reuters wire; the numbers appear to speed up as they round a curve leading from the façade of the building—an Artkraft Strauss optical illusion designed, says Tama Starr, “to give the feeling that the information was coming out of the building, crossing the front, and going back into the building to be reprocessed, as if it were a manufacturing process.” This enormous sign, which Morgan Stanley executives once cringed at the thought of, makes a series of essential statements about the company: that it traffics in information and not just in money; that it is a central node and switching device in the global economy; that it is in the moment; and not least of all, that it is cool enough to claim a space for itself in the new Times Square. The sign was, in effect, a branding device both for Morgan Stanley and for Times Square.

By 1997, Morgan Stanley had so thoroughly accommodated itself to Times Square, and all it stood for, that it was looking to expand; it purchased a ground lease from the Rockefeller Group for the parcel on the east side of Seventh Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets. The Rockefellers had long thought of the parcel as the western gateway to Rockefeller Center, and in 1989 had hired the firm of Kohn Pederson Fox to design a building that would essentially incorporate the property into Rockefeller Center. The architect, Greg Clement, had designed a building with Rockefeller Center limestone and a Rockefeller Center top that would line up horizontally with 30 Rockefeller Center, directly to the east. Here was yet another manifestation of the apparently irrepressible urge to subsume Times Square into Rockefeller Center—the urge that had guided Seymour Durst and George Klein and Philip Johnson. And then the market had collapsed, and Clement’s building went into the deep freeze.

Now Clement and Kevin Kennon, who had since joined the firm, went back to work, this time for Morgan Stanley. Kennon says that he came to think of the new building, at 745 Seventh Avenue, as a “hinge” between two geographical axes, and a “hybrid” of the cultures of Rockefeller Center and Times Square. The new Times Square was, itself, a hybrid place—for, just as Toys “R” Us made Times Square into a more “family-oriented” locale by placing its flagship store there, so Morgan Stanley helped erase the distinction between the corporate world of midtown Manhattan and the old honky-tonk world of Times Square.

Kennon is a sandy-haired, soft-spoken man of an academic bent. His father had been the head of the largest corporate architecture firm in the United States and the dean of architecture at Rice University. While still in college, Kennon had studied at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, a study group founded by a group of young architects and theorists, including Peter Eisenman and Kenneth Frampton. One of Kennon’s fellow students was Rem Koolhaas, who was working on a project that ultimately became Delirious New York, a manifesto that celebrated Manhattan’s raw power and indifference to traditional aesthetic standards, somewhat as Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour had done with Las Vegas. Koolhaas wanted to celebrate Times Square, and its frankly commercial and bluntly sexual traditions, rather than gentrify or erase them. In fact, Delirious New York includes a project Koolhaas called the Sphinx, a giant complex facing the Times Tower that would combine the functions of hotel, apartment house, sports complex, nightclub, auditorium, and sex parlor. Kennon was neither the theorist nor the radical that Koolhaas was, but the Institute gave him a critical language and approach that allowed him to operate beyond the conventions of corporate architecture.

At Kohn Pederson Fox, Kennon had designed the highly regarded new Sotheby’s headquarters on the East Side of Manhattan, as well as the Rodin Museum in Seoul, a structure made almost entirely of glass and thus open to passersby and to cars whizzing past. An architecture critic wrote that the museum “inhabits both the site and Seoul in a way that suggests a new dialogue between cities and buildings.” Kennon was a commercial architect with an intellectual program that involved forging this new dialogue. “The big problem that architects have faced,” he says, “is how to energize public space. So much of what used to be public activity has now been superseded by television, the Internet, videoconferencing. You’re trying to say that a life exists in the public realm that’s not virtual; but because that virtual part of us is so ingrained in us, we have to work with it in order to reengage the real world.” The task, in other words, was to revitalize that old sense of Times Square as an agora, a happy urban welter, even as entities like Morgan Stanley were turning Times Square into the central switchboard of the global information network—to harness the abstract, bit-stream world in the service of the face-to-face world that it seemed bent on eradicating. Kennon wanted to create a sign that had the evanescence, the ever-changingness, of information culture and that simultaneously worked as a transfixing object.

The obvious medium for the new sign was LED. Charles Gwathmey had already used LED technology on the first Morgan Stanley building, but he had been compelled to work with a more limited palette. LED uses tiny bulbs that have been placed in a chemical bath so that they emit light at different points of the spectrum, and thus in different colors. Only in the previous few years, however, had blue LED become commercially available, so that now it was possible to work in virtually any color. It had also become possible—though it was very expensive—to buy LED that would reproduce the visual quality of a movie, and thus create a stunningly vivid, color-drenched image. But Kennon didn’t want to turn the new building into a giant TV set. “Normally you buy LED in eight-inch-by-eight-inch panels,” he says. “But you can buy the panels like Lego blocks in whatever configuration you can think of. You can completely break the box.” In other words, LED allowed you to project imagery in any size or shape you could think of; it was not only programmable, unlike neon or vinyl, but almost infinitely malleable. “There is,” Kennon says, “a strong cultural tradition of receiving mediated information through a framing device”—a proscenium, a TV set. “Now you have something which has the possibility of being completely different. The frame can transform into a fragment, into pieces, into things that are not framed.”

In the other post-1987 Times Square buildings, signs had been slapped onto buildings; even at 1585 Broadway, the sign was an afterthought. Kennon wanted to blur altogether the distinction between the permanent and massive material of the building’s skeleton and the transitory and insubstantial material of its imagery—between architecture and media. He wanted to create panels of LED that would be fused into the façade of the building, so that the viewer would be reading not the sign, but the building itself. And Morgan Stanley had agreed that the sign would feature computer-generated programming, rather than the kind of electronic stock ticker used at 1585. That building was known around the company as “the head”; the new building was supposed to demonstrate the company’s heart. “We wanted to portray Morgan Stanley as a service-oriented, family-oriented, global-oriented firm that cares not just about money,” says Susan Jarrett.

In order to create the programming, Kennon and Clement hired a downtown design firm called Imaginary Forces, which specialized in using computer graphics to create whimsical and ingenious movie credits. But Imaginary Forces had also gained familiarity with LED when it was called on to design the giant screen at the Baltimore Ravens football stadium. Mikon van Gastel, the Dutch designer who headed the project, spent long hours with Kennon discussing the idea of a sign that not only was as big as a building but was a building. Van Gastel says that Kennon told him, “I want to question what a façade is. Is a façade a window into the building, is it a reflection of the environment, is it a reflection of the world? But the big word also was, ‘I don’t want it to be commercial. We want it to be soft branding.’ It means you want to talk about the company without mentioning the company every three seconds, and it becoming much more of a reflection of its attitudes and values.” Kennon was telling Van Gastel, a young and extremely hip figure whose hair stood straight up and was only rarely seen in its natural color, to do just what he would do if he weren’t worried about the client’s reactions. Kennon’s aesthetic ambition appeared to coincide with Morgan’s wish to speak from “the heart.”

In January 1999, Kennon, Clement, and Van Gastel met at Kohn Pederson’s offices with the clients—fifteen or so executives from Morgan Stanley, the Rockefeller Center Development Corporation, Tishman Realty, and Hines Development, the worldwide building firm based in Houston. After presentations by the two architects, Van Gastel showed the images he had worked up. “It was a disaster,” recalls Kennon. “Lead balloon is kind of an understatement. After the presentation, there was dead silence. The comment from Morgan Stanley was ‘All of our commercials are basically people in boats. What does this have to do with anything?’” Kennon tried to explain that it was a sign, not a commercial; that he wanted to break the frame, and so on. But the executives liked the frame; they clung to the frame. To them, TV was not a “medium,” but the natural means through which electronic information was consumed. And they didn’t see much evidence of the service-oriented, family-oriented imagery they had in mind. One Morgan official who was at the meeting says that the pictures reminded him of “an MTV short”—abstract and ironic and full of ingenious one-liners. Kennon now concedes, in retrospect, that “It’s very difficult to propose something this creative when you can’t point to something [that already exists] and say, ‘It looks like this.’”

And then there was the old-fashioned issue of money. Kennon and Clement wanted to use an immense amount of LED, and they wanted it to be the highest quality commercially available, which was sixteen-millimeter (the distance separating each cluster of bulbs). The complexity of the program would also require extremely sophisticated hardware. The sign they envisioned would cost in the neighborhood of $20 million to build, and perhaps another $1 million a year to operate. Morgan officials viewed the meeting as a useful starting point; now they began doing some thinking of their own. Could the sign be built more cheaply, using either less LED or a lower quality of image? Could the bank’s own technology staff do the programming? The answer to all questions turned out to be no. After a year or so of research and planning, the bankers, to their credit, not only accepted the architects’ proposal but increased the costs by adding a large vertical panel over the entrance to the building, to be used for showing more conventional, news-oriented imagery. Morgan re-hired Imaginary Forces; this time they had the designers work directly with marketing and communications officials from the bank.

The programming that the designers devised satisfied Morgan’s concern about image without deviating very far from the original presentation. Van Gastel created six five-minute “themes,” all of them meant to evoke the identity Jarrett and others described without turning the building into a commercial. Some of the imagery was nevertheless fairly direct and literal-minded. The “Aspiration” theme consisted of words and images demonstrating “how Morgan Stanley facilitates dreams,” projected over pictures of people representing customers. There was an atmospheric theme, designed to use the building as a sort of giant mood ring: in the morning, images of sunrise; in the evening, of the moon. But Van Gastel never lost sight of Kennon’s directive to rethink the meaning of “façade.” The “X-Ray” theme turned the building into a transparency: after a blueprint of one floor flashed on the sign, a schematic image of an elevator would rise to that floor, the doors would open to show the activities on the floor, ultimately leading to one particular employee at work; text superimposed on the picture might say, “Little League coach,” or some other heartwarming—and fictitious—piece of identification. Instead of allowing the owner to project images onto the viewer, the sign was giving the viewer access, at least illusionistically, to the otherwise hidden core of the enterprise—to its “heart,” as it were.

Kennon and Clement designed the building in such a way as to fully incorporate the sign. The LED panels, each forty feet wide and eight feet high, were placed inside pockets formed by structural elements of the façade. The three horizontal bands covered spandrels, dark areas that contain plumbing and wiring, and alternated with windows of equal height, so that when an image played over the building, a viewer would have to imaginatively fill in the blanks created by the intervening floors—another means of connecting the spectator in the street with the extravaganza in the sky.

No one had ever designed anything like this before, and the technical problems were staggering. Each horizontal panel contained 5,346 pixels; a standard movie screen, by contrast, has 2,048. So much imagery could run on the building at once that Van Gastel had to use three powerful computers to create separate images and superimpose them on one another in order to see what the façade would look like at any given moment. What’s more, the LED panels were set inside the decorative mullions that ran up the façade; the software had to be programmed with five-pixel-wide blank spaces wherever a mullion would be located. The graphic information had to be programmed so that as it moved across the façade it would disappear or explode as it reached one of these vertical dividers—as if the building itself were a mediating device—and then reassemble on the other side. And the programming would grow more complex over time: Phase Two would add a layer of sound to the imagery, while Phase Three would incorporate sensors that would allow changes in weather or traffic to influence the imagery. After years of toil, the building would be everything the architects and designers had dreamed of— a sign that would be admired in Starbucks and anatomized in architectural journals and media studies departments.

By the summer of 2001, LED was beginning to emerge as the new medium of corporate spectacularity. NASDAQ had built a giant cylindrical sign jutting out over the street at the northeast corner of 42nd and Broadway, though all sign connoisseurs agreed that the quality of both the LED and the programming was poor. On the other side of Broadway, Reuters had commissioned the designer Edwin Schlossberg to create programming for a series of giant black panels that run down one vertex of the building and then continue just above the street level on two sides— and to use, as Morgan had, the highest quality of imagery.

Morgan planned to fully occupy its new building on November 15, 2001, so the programming was to be fully operational by then as well. Over the summer, Morgan installed the incredibly elaborate equipment required to operate the sign, and then began experimentally running the programming. It was during this period that passersby could see the piggybank gavotte, and the bouncing apples, and the pedestrians and the bridge. And then came the terrorist attacks of September 11. Suddenly, the idea of having your employees concentrated in the world’s most famous urban space lost its appeal; within weeks, Morgan Stanley was scouting for new locations and for a buyer for its “heart.” It quickly found the latter in Lehman Brothers, which had lost its headquarters, in the World Financial Center. In early October, Lehman bought the building, for $700 million. The sign, which had been four years in the making, was an afterthought. By the time Lehman formally took title, in early December, three of the six segments were up and running, but Lehman had suspended work on the rest.

In order to comply with the Times Square lighting regulations, Lehman continued to run the sign, but it kept only the most literal-minded images—the suspension bridge and the gallery of pedestrians— and ran them over and over until it was difficult to remember why the sign had been worth caring about in the first place. It was understandable that after the tremendous shock of 9/11, and the sheer logistical challenge of moving, reprogramming the sign was not exactly a top priority. Nevertheless, the bank hired Roger Dean, the Morgan executive who had been responsible for the engineering on both the sign at 1585 Broadway and the new one. When I went to see Dean in early 2002, he explained that Lehman had decided to at least temporarily strip away all the “foreground” images of data and graphics and to keep those few “background” images with which company officials felt comfortable. He had hired a new programmer, who had worked on the technical aspects of the new sign. He felt confident that Lehman would not reduce the sign to a commercial. “I don’t get the feeling at the moment that we’re likely to be blatant about it,” he said. “There’s enough blatancy in Times Square, and I personally would like to be removed from that.”

The new programming went up in the summer of 2002; I stood in front of Starbucks to take a look. The words “Lehman Brothers” covered most of the building, save for two panels on which appeared the phrase “Where Vision Gets Built,” apparently the company’s rather awkward motto, since it was followed by a trademark sign. Then a background of blue mosaic tiles appeared, and once again the giant words “Lehman Brothers,” this time sliding by as cutouts composed of the tiles. Then a mighty sea crashed against rocks; then “Lehman Brothers,” and “Where Vision,” etc., once again. Then came the bridge stretching over the sea, then rolling surf, then the company logo again, then the bridge, then a great mass of clouds, then the logo again, and then the blue tiles. I had had enough.

I called Roger Dean and asked how the corporate advertising squared with his antiblatancy pledge. “I don’t know if I would consider it advertising,” he said lamely. He was plainly uncomfortable. He added that his responsibility was “purely on the technical side.” This was true, though it also seemed plain that he had lost some internal battle. “Our thinking has obviously developed,” he said, and then asked, or rather pleaded, that I direct any further questions to Tony Zehnder, Lehman’s head of corporate communications. Zehnder seemed utterly mystified by my sense of forfeited possibility. He said, “We took the content that Morgan Stanley had for the sign and we pared it down to what we thought were usable images, and we put our name on to identify the name of the building. That’s what the sign is for the moment.”

I called the new programmer, Steven Heimbold. Months earlier, he had been cautiously hopeful that Lehman would let him do something as inventive as Imaginary Forces had done. But they hadn’t. “Lehman Brothers has not really embraced the sign in any way like Morgan Stanley,” he admitted. “The imagery they want is more generic. They’re not really looking for any higher meaning other than looking at the sign.” Heimbold, like Dean, was having trouble being the good corporate soldier. “The public,” he said, “really hasn’t seen it in its full glory.”

Might they someday? Zehnder had, after all, said “for the moment.” A different moment could come, and all of the elaborate wiring and computer hardware would be there inside the building waiting to be used. One of the saving graces of Times Square is that nothing is forever.

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