City Selects Two Companies to Redesign Sidewalk Sheds as Part of City’s ‘Get Sheds Down’ Plan

Image Credit: NYC Mayor’s Office.

On February 29, 2024, Mayor Eric Adams, Buildings Commissioner Jimmy Oddo, and Mayor’s Office of Contract Services Director Lisa Flores announced the selection of two companies to redesign scaffolding sheds as part of the “Get Sheds Down” plan to improve sidewalk sheds. The companies, Arup US and Practice for Architecture and Urbanism, will work on six new designs to provide contractors with cost-effective options.

The “Get Sheds Down” plan is a multi-prong approach to dealing with the City’s ongoing issue regarding long-standing sidewalk sheds. Local Law 11 requires inspections of building facades over six stories every five years; while that work is being done and any corrections made, a sidewalk shed is required to keep pedestrians safe from the work overhead. The sidewalk sheds stay up on average of 500 days, but some stay up for years when owners choose to rent the sidewalk shed equipment instead of doing proper repairs. Last December, the sidewalk shed was removed from 409 Edgecombe Avenue in Harlem after being up for 21 years, and was the city’s longest standing sidewalk shed at the time. The property owner continually failed to make repairs for almost two decades until the city filed criminal charges against the building’s management in 2019. Once the repairs were completed, the shed came down. 

Since the plan was launched in July, over 500 sidewalk sheds have come down; the plan includes new monthly fines for sheds that are not removed in a timely manner, increased penalties, proposed fees for permit renewals and the expansion of the Long Standing Shed program to target sheds that have been up for over five years. Eighty-two “long-standing” sheds have been removed since the plan’s launch.

While the city works on getting sheds down faster, the plan also included proposals to make sidewalk sheds less obstructive and more aesthetically pleasing. This includes this announcement to create improved designs for sheds, as well as incorporating public art onto sheds. To read CityLand’s prior coverage, click here.

The six designs the companies will produce will include four sidewalk-level sheds and two options for pedestrian safety equipment, including mesh fiber or netting. The designs will be publicly released so any contractor can build and use them, which will further reduce costs. The new designs will be implemented by early 2025 and will be incorporated into the building code. These designs will improve upon the standard hunter green pipe-and-plywood sheds that currently cover hundreds of miles of New York City sidewalks. 

Arup US has had an office in New York for over 30 years, and has worked with city and state government agencies on projects like the Fulton Center subway, Hudson River Park, the Second Avenue Subway line, Little Island, and the Lincoln Center redevelopment. Practice for Architecture and Urbanism is a minority-owned business that has worked on projects like the 77 Water Street POPS, the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan, and the Domino Sugar Refinery redevelopment. 

Mayor Adams stated, “As we work toward removing scaffolding and construction sheds faster, we also recognize the function that sheds play in keeping pedestrians safe, but that doesn’t mean they have to be a drab eyesore. Today, we’re taking an important step toward redesigning sheds and scaffolding, making them better-looking and keeping costs low. By phasing out our current green, plywood sheds, we’re reimagining how our sidewalks should look, while building a safer and more welcoming city. This administration will continue our commitment toward ‘Getting Sheds Down,’ beautifying our streets, and improving quality of life standards for all New Yorkers.”

Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu stated, “New York is a hub of urban design; there is no reason why something as ubiquitous as a sidewalk shed has to be an eyesore. I have full confidence that Arup US and PAU are equipped to reimagine the sidewalk shed of the future in partnership with the DOB, as the Adams administration seeks legislative solutions with the City Council to ‘Get Sheds Down.'”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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