Remember the city’s URBANshed program? No? Well, back in 2009 the city launched a competition to see if anybody could come up with a better design for sidewalk sheds—those things erected around construction sites to shield pedestrians from construction debris—which, of course, because they’re the most rudimentary and ugly things on any street, yes, of course, anybody could design something better. Now, finally, the winners of that competition have seen their vision realized; it’s only a matter of time before every construction site looks like a Gothic cathedral, right?
Maybe. The design that won the URBANshed competition was developed by 28-year-old University of Pennsylvania student Young-Hwan Choi, with assists from Andres Cortes and Sarrah Khan. “Urban Umbrella” (PDF), which, though ostensibly umbrella-like for its evocative branching support structure, is perhaps even more striking in its likeness to the vaulted ceilings of a church or cathedral.
As promised, the winning shed design will be deployed at a Lower Manhattan construction site shortly—a prototype was also installed outside 100 Broadway—though how many of the roughly 6,000 sidewalk sheds crowding city streets at any given time will be replaced by Choi’s elegant design is unclear.
Also, lastly, “Urban Umbrella”? Aren’t umbrellas already rather urban? It’s not like taking something intensely pastoral or quaint and urbanizing it, like, say, the urban sombrero…