New York City's TKTS (pronounced phonetically "tee kay tee ess") first opened in 1973 and is operated by the Theatre Development Fund. There are three locations: one in Duffy Square (at W 47th Street and Broadway, the north end of Times Square); another in Downtown Brooklyn (Jay St. and Myrtle St. Promenade); and a third at the South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan (replacing the office formerly located in the lobby of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks). The Seaport location has been temporarily closed after sustaining damage from Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012.
The original TKTS pavilion in Times Square was designed by the Manhattan architecture firm of Mayers & Schiff Associates and was inaugurated by Mayor John Lindsay. The city had a capital budget of $5,000 to build the pavilion, a sum that was obviously insufficient. But the city did have an "operating" budget, which the architects used in a plan based on renting, rather than buying, the pavilion's parts. The sales booth was housed in a rented construction trailer; the armature around and on top of the trailer was made from rented scaffolding parts. Interwoven through the armature was a continuous white canvas ribbon emblazoned with the "TKTS" logo. Foundations could not be dug under the booth because the subway structure is just below ground level. To hold down this giant "wind kite" the architects utilized pile driving test weights (also rented). The pavilion received many design awards, including the American Institute of Graphic Arts' Excellence in Communications Graphics; The City Club of New York's Bard Award for Architecture and Urban Design; and the N.Y. State Association of Architects Certificate of Merit for Design Excellence.
A new TKTS booth for the Times Square location began construction in May 2006 and was completed in October 2008. During this time, the TKTS booth was temporarily relocated to the nearby Marriott Marquis hotel. After many delays, the new TKTS booth opened for business on October 16, 2008 on a renovated Duffy Square, with a ceremony featuring Mayor Michael Bloomberg and various Broadway performers. The booth is wedge-shaped, with wide, bleacher-like stairs covering the roof, allowing pedestrians to sit down or climb the steps for a panoramic, unobstructed view of Times Square. According to the Theater Development Fund, the final cost of the new booth was $19 million.
The new TKTS Booth and the redevelopment of Father Duffy Square was completed as a partnership between Theatre Development Fund, Times Square Alliance, and Father Duffy Coalition. The project began in 1999 with an international design competition sponsored the Van Alen Institute to re-design the popular TKTS Discount Booth. The competition’s winner, Australian firm Choi Ropiha, reframed the challenge as a broader urban design response to invigorate and provide a center for Times Square. In 2001 Theatre Development Fund commissioned a feasibility study. New York-based Perkins Eastman developed several approaches, and from those a final design, informed and inspired by the original concept, employed glass as the sole structural component for the steps and the TKTS Booth itself would be a free-standing structure within the glass enclosure. Completing the transformation of Father Duffy Square was the work of the plaza’s architect, William Fellows of William Fellows Architects (and now with PKSB Architects). The transformation of the square allows for increased pedestrian traffic and more prominence for Father Duffy’s commanding statue.
In the 35 years since the booth first opened, there have been 51 million tickets sold. Theaters release tickets for sale by TKTS throughout the day, with more tickets often available within a few hours of showtime. TKTS accepts cash, travelers checks, and credit cards. Waiting times at Duffy Square are normally longer than at the Seaport and Brooklyn locations. Available shows are displayed on large signs near the ticket windows. The booth has twelve sales windows.
Awards and Recognition
The TKTS Booth in Times Square has won more than two dozen awards for design, lighting, and technical innovation including American Planning Association, William H. White Award; American Institute of Architects (AIA), Institute Honor Awards for Architecture; American Institute of Architects (AIA) New York State Chapter, Best in New York State; Travel + Leisure, Design Award: Best Public Space; and the Engineering Grand Award in Popular Science magazine's Best of "What's New 2009". At the time, it was the largest load-bearing glass structure in the world, designed by engineers at Dewhurst Macfarlane using a plastic film called SentryGlas Plus from DuPont.
London's TKTS was formerly known as the Half-Price Ticket Booth. It is operated by The Society of London Theatre and first opened in 1980; it is located in Leicester Square in the Clocktower building, selling half price and discounted West End theatre tickets. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the performance and up to a week in advance.
A new branch of TKTS has opened at Brent Cross Shopping Centre.
- Hetrick, Adam. "Light the Lights: Duffy Square and TKTS Booth Reopen Oct. 16", playbill.com, October 16, 2008
- Jones, Kenneth. "Spring 2008 Is Target for New TKTS Booth Opening in Times Square", playbill.com, October 10, 2007
- Dunlap, David. "Atop the New TKTS Booth, Ruby-Red Stairs With a View of the Great White Way", The New York Times, October 16, 2008