New York City's ubiquitous sidewalk sheds re-imagined by PBDW, Gensler, Gannett Fleming, and Francis Cauffman
What's uglier than a construction shed? The sheds cover nearly 200 miles (!) of sidewalks across the five boroughs, enveloping pedestrians in drab tunnels of darkness. Past competitions in New York City have attempted to resolve the ubiquitous blight that sheds present, but the winning designs were never implemented. Now, the New York Building Congress has announced four winners of its Construction Shed Design Competition, an invitation to create a more aesthetically pleasing shed. A jury of 14 architects, engineers, and city officials selected Gensler's G-Shed, Gannett Fleming's ScaffoldWing, Francis Cauffman's Side+Ways+Shed, and PBDW Architects and Anastos Engineering Associates' UrbanArbor as the competition's winners, from a pool of 33 entries. “The New York Building Congress issued a challenge to the industry to use its ingenuity and expertise to offer fresh ideas for solving a vexing quality of life issue for New Yorkers, who experience the construction industry most often when navigating the obstructions and cramped spaces of construction sheds,” proclaimed Thomas Scarangello, Chairman of the Building Congress and its innovation task force, in a statement. “The industry’s collective response has been truly inspirational.” The four designs had to meet stringent New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) requirements that regulate sheds for commercial construction of residential and commercial properties, as well as abide by masonry repair regulations set out in Local Law 11. The designs reduce or eliminate the shed supports that obstruct pedestrian flow. They open at the curb line, allowing light to penetrate the sidewalk up to the building wall. To facilitate widespread use, the designs are constructed from ready-made materials, are cost-effective and off-the-shelf, as well. In a vote of confidence, the UrbanArbor design will be used at upcoming New York City Department of Design and Construction projects. Take a look at the winning projects: Gensler's G-Shed's modular poles fit can be braced in different configurations, creating an arcade that enhances the street presence of ground-floor retail. ScaffoldWing's roof decking is made from translucent polycarbonate panels to allow light in from above. Side+Ways+Shed photovoltaic-powered LEDs mitigate the low lighting and "tunnel effect" that plagues the typical construction shed. The supporting columns are wrapped in customizable, patterned fabric to enliven the streetscape. UrbanArbor's Y-shaped, diagonally-braced posts refrence trees, while reducing the density of supporting posts by 50 percent. Translucent polycarbonate parapets afford maximum daylight at sidewalk level while LED lights and solar panels save energy.