Urban Umbrella on New York 1

The Department of Buildings unveiled Tuesday the winning design from an international competition to create a new standard of scaffolding in the city.

Known as the “Urban Umbrella,” the design was chosen through the agency and the American Institute of Architects’ “UrbanSHED International Design Competition.”

A total of 164 different scaffolding prototypes were sent in by architects, engineers, designers and students from 28 different countries.

The city was looking for a design that would improve neighborhood quality and aesthetics and bring more natural light to the sidewalk.

“It’s all open, there’s no cross bracing at the bottom, and we’ve lifted the structure up above the pedestrians head to make it as safe as possible,” said DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri.

The winning structure was submitted by New-York based designer Young-Hwan Choi, who teamed up with city-based design firm Agencie Group to take his creation to the next level.

“I realized that the umbrella and the scaffold has a similar function and tried to use the umbrella structure system and apply it to the scaffold,” Choi said.

“It’s three primary materials, it’s steel. The overhead surface, which is fully translucent, is a high density polymer — it’s plastic. And the lighting, we are actually using LED technology developed by a company in Korea. It’s the most cutting edge lighting technology,” said Agencie Group Architect Andres Cortes.

Choi, who recently completed architecture school at the University of Pennsylvania, was rewarded with a $10,000 prize for the design.

While the new scaffolding will not be mandated, city officials are hoping it will set a new standard in the real estate and construction industry.

Representatives from the city’s development and property management community visited Caliper Studio in Williamsburg where the prototype was built to check it out.

“I think that the sidewalks are the first thing that people see, and that having a beautiful canopy that invites people in is going to be good for the buildings, it’s going to be good for people walking by, good for New York,” said Angela Sung-Pinsky of the Real Estate Board of New York.

The scaffolding prototype will soon be installed at a job site in Lower Manhattan.

Officials say the costs for contractors to install the new design are expected to be in line with costs for the current design.

There are currently 6,000 sidewalk sheds in the city.


Photo by Ty Cole.
Handrail system at entrance. Photo by Scott Larsen.
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Sliding door pocket