Manhattan Condos - New Developments - Conversions - Resales: NYC Urban Umbrella | 21st Century Scaffolding

NYC Urban Umbrella | 21st Century Scaffolding

(Photo Credit: Edward Reed)

A Welcome Change from Conventional Scaffolding

 New York City unveiled the first prototype of the Urban Umbrella, the winning design from the urbanSHED International Design Competition.

The competition was held to create a new design for sidewalk sheds – temporary structures built to protect pedestrians during construction – which had not been updated in more than 60 years in New York City.

The prototype of the new state-of-the-art sidewalk shed was unveiled at 100 Broadway, a 24-story building in Lower Manhattan.

(images from the Mayor's Office)

 The Urban Umbrella features several new elements that are expected to transform the look of the City’s streetscapes and significantly improve upon the current model. 

 The new structure, which is primarily comprised of recycled steel, translucent plastic panels and LED lighting, brings more air and natural light to the sidewalk and increases building visibility to help businesses attract customers during construction operations. 

 The sleek design also limits obstructions to allow for more pedestrian traffic and increases visibility at night because of its strategic lighting. The design is safer than the current model because it is more resistant to the forces associated with falling debris, vehicle accidents and strong winds.


(images from the Mayor's Office)

Supported by the Alliance for Downtown New York and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City through a grant from REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York), the Urban Umbrella was constructed to incorporate new safety and aesthetic features that vastly improve the pedestrian experience.

 Sidewalk sheds are required during construction of new buildings 40 feet or higher and the demolition of buildings 25 feet or higher.

There are approximately 6,000 sheds installed in New York City.


Significant features of the Urban Umbrella include:


(images from the Mayor's Office)
  • Sustainable LED lighting with an 11-year lifespan
  • Graceful lighting strategy that enhances storefronts
  • Translucent overhead panels that transmits natural ambient light to the sidewalk
  • Horizontal load equal to 2% of its vertical load
  • Elimination of cross-bracing that visually obstructs storefronts and building entrances
  • 300 pounds per square foot load capacity to protect the public from falling debris and allow for safe construction above
  • Adjustable feet that pivot and extend to accommodate changes in sidewalk pitch, eliminating the need for wood shims



To order the Urban Umbrella, contact the Agencie Group at


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Comment balloon 7 commentsMitchell J Hall • December 09 2011 10:38PM


Mitchell - they actually look very light and docorative. Plus, they ae functional, what more do we need. I remember walking in the city in those sheds, like in tunnels. In Manhattan there is always something under construction, or reconstruction, so they are quite a staple. These will be very nice.

BTW, it was difficult to find a blog on the dashboard, which is not a crazy December challenge... can you dilute water?

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) almost 8 years ago

Mitchell, Very Attractive and architectural,  i'll be looking for signs of this in NYC. I'll be there tomorrow evening and again one day soon for sight seeing and skating.

Posted by Ellen Caruso (Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty) almost 8 years ago

Mitchell: This is a wonderful innovation. Whenever I visit Manahttan it feels like half the city is under construction because the old scaffoding is so ugly, dark and confining. But could you please not send all the old stuff to Philadelphia? That scaffolding is starting to crop uo and it is UGLY! Happy Holidays!

Posted by Anne M. Costello (Weidel Realtors) almost 8 years ago

Love it Mitchell.  It's great to see NYC making such attractive and useful innovations.  I hope this catches on in other cities as well.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 8 years ago

What a great idea, they look so good they might never come down, thanks for sharing.

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) almost 8 years ago

Hi Jon, You're right. There is always something under construction or reconstruction here. We have a local law #11 that every building every 5 years has to restore it's facade. It's called "pointing" If water gets in the concrete it has to be replaced. The majority of the city is covered in scaffolding. I think the new ones look nice and are supposed to be waterproof.

BTW: No December challenge for me. I won't dillute my blog just for points. My day would bore people. Walk through, closing, lease signing, showing apartments, Christmas party, writing blog bla bla bla. LOL.

Ellen, I think they are only at one building so far. Downtown 100 Broadway near City Hall. Enjoy the weekend.

Anne, Thanks sometimes I cross the street when the scaffolding looks dangerous besides how ugly.

Hi Gabe, They do look attractive like Christmas decorations.

Hi David, Thanks, I agree. Restaurant owners may want to keep the ones that rainproof their outdoor cafes.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (Compass) almost 8 years ago

What a great idea. I'll be looking for these next time I visit NYC!

Posted by Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA, Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS (Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate) almost 8 years ago