Posted by Leonard Steinberg on July 30th, 2011

We have covered this subject before in LUXURYLETTER: Manhattan and New York City sidewalks are constantly covered with hideous, unsightly construction sheds and scaffolding. Always dark, somewhat sketchy, and often covered with graffiti, the sheds leave much to be desired, which is why the Department of Buildings hosted the UrbanSHED Competition, asking designers to create a more aesthetically pleasing design for these sidewalk canopies. A prototype of the winning design has just been unveiled:  the arched steel structure with a transparent top is a breath of fresh air. Designed by winner Young-Hwan Choi with architect Andrés Cortés and engineer Sarrah Khan of New York-based Agencie Group, the new canopy is a huge improvement from the standard pipe and plywood shed.

It is time to really evaluate this ugly scaffolding once and for all: While I love the concept of re-designing the scaffolding and making it more attractive, personally I see permanent sidewalk covers as the solution. The cost to building owners to rent these structures is prohibitive. With the sun a lot less desirable these days, why not cover sidewalks (a la Meatpacking District and Tribeca) with permanent canopies. These (attractive) canopies could be made of solar panels to generate power and also transmit light. Something needs to change.