The Sidewalk Shed's Extreme Makeover

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The view of the sidewalk shed prototype at 100 Broadway in Lower Manhattan. (Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

The sidewalk shed — you know that structure that covers sidewalks to protect pedestrians from work that's being done on buildings — is getting a makeover of its own.

The Bloomberg administration sponsored an international design competition in 2009 to find the most innovative design. The Urban Umbrella was selected for its aesthetic features, as well as its sustainable characteristics including sustainable LED lighting, with an estimated lifespan of more than a decade. The lights are meant to allow for more pedestrian visibility at night.

The temporary structure hasn’t received an update since the 1950’s. The prototype of the city’s new sidewalk shed model is on display in Lower Manhattan.

(Photo: What a sidewalk shed currently looks like (left), and what the sidewalk shed will look like (right). Kathleen Horan/WNYC)

University of Pennsylvania student Young-Hwan Choi came up with the winning design, which was selected from the 164 submitted. He developed the idea with an engineer and architect who work with the New York based design firm, Agencie group.

Designer Andrés Cortés said “Our goal In designing the Urban Umbrella was to create an environment that stimulated on to look upward and outward” unlike ubiquitous dark scaffolding “and in doing so reclaim the sidewalks as the places of discovery they are intended to be.”

Sidewalk sheds are required during construction of new buildings 40 feet or higher and the demolition of buildings 25 feet or higher. There are currently about 6,000 sheds installed throughout the city.

Cortés said expect to see more of the new sheds popping up downtown and in midtown next spring.


Kathleen Horan/WNYC
The view of the sidewalk shed prototype at 100 Broadway in Lower Manhattan.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
They're called "Urban Umbrellas" for a reason.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
The tops of the new canopies will light up at night.
The Trinity Church steeple across the street from the sidewalk shed prototype.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC
The distinctive look of the structure along Broadway.
Kathleen Horan/WNYC

Designers of the new sidewalk shed: Andrés Cortés, Sarrah Khan and Young-Hwan Choi with Mayor Bloomberg. Choi created the initial design and Cortés & Khan from the NY firm Agencie Group oversaw the creation & installation of the structure.


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Comments [2]

Pedestrian Safety Solutions from Windham, NH

It is my understanding that an urban umbrella or pedestrian shed is usually used with scaffolding (underneath), not in place of it. It is strictly there for pedestrian safety as work goes on above. The load capacities above are accurate. A new light duty shed called The Genius Pedestrian Tunnel has a load capacity of 30 psf and is great for window & power washers, restoration & inspection and sets up in just a minute with only one person!

Jan. 23 2014 03:10 PM
Engineer from nyc

The Urban Umbrella does not meet the OSHA
General Requirements for Scaffolds §1926.451. The load capacity requirement is 1500 psi while the urban umbrella is only 300 psf

Dec. 08 2011 03:41 PM

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