Call it a sidewalk shed or bridge: pedestrian protection by any name is viewed as a Big Apple eyesore to many, including local building officials and the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Through a design competition, they are trying to improve the covers, which they say number 6,000 and add up to more than 1 million linear ft of unsightliness.
On Aug. 13, the New York City Dept. of Buildings and AIANY launched an international design competition called urbanSHED to create a designer shed that improves the pedestrian experience while maintaining or exceeding safety requirements. The goal is to “change the landscape,” said DOB Commissioner Robert LiMandri at the Aug. 19 launch of the competition. LiMandri is spearheading the undertaking with support from other city departments and interested groups.
The brief for the competition, organized by AIANY, says the winner will meet or exceed such criteria as safety, sustainability and economy and comply with all applicable laws. A jury of nine will be seeking a design that increases light and air to the sidewalk; complements various streetscapes, including residential, retail, industrial and commercial; controls foot traffic; offers easy access to building entrances, improves structural connections and fastening details; and provides energy-efficient lighting. Details are available at www.urbanSHED.org.
Registration for the competition ends on Sept. 18, and all entries are due on Oct. 2. Three finalists will be announced during the week of Oct. 7, and each will receive a $5,000 stipend to refine their entries. The eventual winner, which can be an individual, group or firm, will be announced on Dec. 17. The winner will receive a $10,000 prize, and the design will be built as part of the Alliance for Downtown New York’s Re-Construction Art Program.
DOB plans to issue an official bulletin establishing the winning design as an approved standard for use. “No one will have to wait on line to get a permit to use it,” said LiMandri. “It will provide another choice” for installations, he added.
“This can have an impact citywide, and what happens here can be picked up elsewhere,” said Rick Bell, AIANY’s executive director. Bell says there already are some competition registrants, though not as many as he had hoped.