The New York Building Congress announced it is launching a competition inviting the city’s architects, engineers, and construction professionals to design an innovative and more aesthetically-pleasing alternative to the unsightly sidewalk sheds that currently cover nearly 200 miles of sidewalks throughout the five boroughs.
The competition is being spearheaded by the Building Congress Task Force on Innovation and Best Practices and the New York Building Foundation.
“While New York City’s sidewalk sheds have served the practical function of protecting pedestrians from construction taking place right over their heads, they have failed miserably in terms of their impact on New Yorkers’ quality of life,” said Frank J. Sciame, Jr., who is chairing the competition committee.
“Our goal is to come up with fresh ideas on how to create a thoughtful and more visually appealing sidewalk shed.”
Building Congress Chairman Tom Scarangello added, “In the course of their daily lives, millions of New Yorkers are forced to encounter sidewalk sheds that can best be described as dark, constrictive, and forbidding. It’s time we stopped treating their design as an afterthought.”
Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson said, “We believe we can come up with a cost-effective way to design, erect, and maintain sheds that are more aesthetically pleasing and every bit as functional as what we use today. We hope and expect that this competition of ideas proves us right.”
“It is commendable that the New York Building Congress is bringing awareness to a significant issue with the Construction Shed Design Competition,” said Jay Simson, president of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York.
“While these sheds are erected to protect the safety of the public, they are in place for long periods of time and should be redesigned to enhance the aesthetic of New York City streets and neighborhoods.”
Added AIA New York Chapter Interim Executive Director David Burney, FAIA,
“The ‘Sidewalk Shed’ has never been more than strictly utilitarian. It is welcome news that the Building Congress is sponsoring this ideas competition because a well-designed sidewalk shed could vastly improve the pedestrian experience for all New Yorkers who navigate the City’s streets. AIANY fully supports this initiative.”
“Congratulations to the New York Building Congress for launching an important effort to encourage innovative design and an improved experience for pedestrians,” said REBNY President John Banks.
“We look forward to welcoming the competition’s new ideas to enhance the quality of life of New Yorkers and visitors alike.”
The goal of the competition is to leverage the expertise and innovation of the building industry to develop preliminary shed design concepts that could meet New York City Department of Buildings requirements while thoughtfully addressing a major quality of life issue for New Yorkers, whose primary interfaces with the building industry are the sheds and other temporary structures that border construction sites.
The competition is intended as a continuation of an effort that began with the New York City Department of Building’s 2009 urbanSHED design initiative.
The Building Congress is asking participants to create shed design concepts that are suitable for new commercial construction in central business districts; new small- to mid-size residential and commercial projects; and Local Law 11 masonry repair work, particularly on older multi-story residential buildings with more limited budgets and numerous design constraints.
Entrants are being asked to submit one conceptual or schematic design representing a buildable construction shed, which will be evaluated by a competition committee of industry experts based on aesthetics and constructability.
Once winners are chosen, the Building Congress will seek to have the designs realized on New York City construction sites and will work to encourage wider adoption within the industry.
The Building Congress is asking participants to submit their ideas by August 19, with winners to be announced in September. The Competition Committee will select up to four winners, who will share a $10,000 prize.
More information on the competition is available at www.nybuildingfoundation.org.