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Turnstyle is a retail development that transformed a utilitarian passageway within New York City’s subway system into a vibrant public space for shopping, eating, and gathering. Extending from West 57th to 58th Streets below Eighth Avenue and above the train tunnel, the 365-foot-long concourse connects the busy Columbus Circle station to multiple sidewalk entries and office building lobbies. AO worked with a visionary developer and the Metropolitan Transit Authority to create this new model for transit retail that brings the vitality of the city sidewalk below ground to make a memorable urban destination for commuters and neighborhood workers and residents.

Within the restraints of the century-old tunnel, we built numerous small stores scaled and equipped to draw young, local, and minority-owned businesses. Varied storefronts and signs enliven the pedestrian experience while glass transoms allow the vaulted ceiling to float over the stores providing spaciousness to the underground space. We revealed the intrinsic character of the old beams, vaults, columns by washing them with white paint and warm light and introduced new elements subtly alluding to classic subway features such as the large black porcelain floor tile arranged in a herringbone pattern reminiscent of Grand Central Station’s Gustavino tiles and the “spine” which contains pipes and conduits in a metal enclosure with perforations patterned on the wall tiles found in historic stations. The long passageway is punctuated with colorful tile tables and lacquer kiosks where one can pause out of the traffic flow to eat, drink, and shop while facetted mirrored mechanical enclosures placed in the ceiling vaults dynamically reflect the thousands of people who pass through every day.


Oasis Development with the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority


30,000 square foot Renovation


New York, NY


Completed 2016


Planning, Architectural Design, MTA Approvals & Coordination, Subtenant Fit-Out Coordination