NEW YORK CITY-Taking advantage of a lull in construction activity, the city and leading industry associations have launched urbanSHED, a global design competition to build a better sidewalk shed. The winning design, one that “improves the pedestrian experience while maintaining or exceeding the required safety standards in New York City,” will eventually be realized as a prototype shed on a Lower Manhattan construction site, the Department of Buildings announced Thursday.

“The economic crisis permits us to stop and reconsider business as usual at construction sites,” says Rick Bell, executive director of the American Institute of Architects’ New York chapter, in a release. “That’s one of the reasons why the urbanSHED competition is so important at this point in time. We have the opportunity to call for a different, greener and better-designed way to protect passers-by. When construction picks up again, the new standard–one that addresses our city’s safety, sustainability and streetscape concerns–will be ready.”

The DOB and AIANY are sponsoring the competition, along with the Alliance for Downtown New York, the ABNY Foundation, the Illuminating Engineering Society New York City Section and the New York Building Congress. Providing additional support are the city’s Department of Transportation and Department of City Planning and the Structural Engineers Assoc. of New York.

Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance, notes in a release that the urbanSHED competition complements the alliance’s Re: Construction program of turning Lower Manhattan construction barriers into canvases for temporary artwork. The alliance on Friday announced that four temporary installations have been put up at separate construction sites through the Re: Con program.

“These installations beautify our streets, and increase foot-traffic and economic activity Downtown,” Berger says in a release from the alliance. “Adding a public art component to our civic improvement, economic development and construction mitigation efforts provides a clear benefit to pedestrians and the community.”

The urbanSHED competition will be conducted in two phases, with the jury selecting up to three designs in phase one based on safety, sustainability and constructability. According to the urbanSHED website, constructability criteria include a mandate that costs must be in line with those of the 6,000 sidewalk sheds currently in use around the city.

In phase two, the finalists will further develop their designs to meet or exceed current technical and structural requirements to assure safety and stability. The jury is slated to select a winning design in December, according to the DOB. Further information is available at

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free ALM Digital Reader.

Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Unlimited access to GlobeSt and other free ALM publications
  • Access to 15 years of GlobeSt archives
  • Your choice of GlobeSt digital newsletters and over 70 others from popular sister publications
  • 1 free article* every 30 days across the ALM subscription network
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM events and publications

*May exclude premium content
Already have an account?


© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.


Join GlobeSt

Don't miss crucial news and insights you need to make informed commercial real estate decisions. Join now!

  • Free unlimited access to's trusted and independent team of experts who provide commercial real estate owners, investors, developers, brokers and finance professionals with comprehensive coverage, analysis and best practices necessary to innovate and build business.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and GlobeSt events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join GlobeSt

Copyright © 2024 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.