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Mayor Adams Announces Selection of Two Firms to Redesign Scaffolding Sheds, Pedestrian Safety Equipment as Part of 'Get Sheds Down' Initiative

February 29, 2024

Selections Announced at Public Hearing After Extensive Selection Process,Includes Minority-Owned Business Enterprise

New Designs Will Phase Out Current Green Pipe-and-Plywood Sidewalk Shed Designs with More Cost-Efficient, Better-Looking Designs

New York – New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Department of Buildings Commissioner (DOB) Jimmy Oddo, and Mayor's Office of Contract Services (MOCS) Director Lisa Flores today announced the selection of two companies — Arup US and Practice for Architecture and Urbanism (PAU) — to deliver six new better-looking, more cost-efficient designs for scaffolding/construction sheds and pedestrian safety equipment. The redesigns will include four options for sidewalk-level sheds and two options for non-sidewalk-level pedestrian safety equipment, such as mesh fiber wraps or netting. Those six designs will be publicly released by the city to give every contractor the ability to build and use them, further driving down costs through competition.

Part of Mayor Adams' 'Get Sheds Down' plan, the new designs will improve the pedestrian experience, beautify the streetscape, keep costs low for building owners, and provide more aesthetically-pleasing pedestrian safety equipment. The city will incorporate the new designs into the building code and make them available for public use, improving upon the current hunter green pipe-and-plywood sheds that are used today. The new designs will be implemented by early 2025.

"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," said Mayor Adams. "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."

"While we work to 'Get Sheds Down,' we also need to ensure that those that are up for New Yorkers' safety showcase — rather than shroud — our city. I am confident that Arup US and PAU will be excellent partners in helping us envision an aesthetic and safe post-plywood future for our sidewalk safety infrastructure," said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. "With open-source designs, this is the beginning of an exciting transformation for our streets. I look forward to it."

"Pedestrian safety equipment plays a critical public safety role in our city, protecting New Yorkers from the potential hazards associated with active construction sites and neglected buildings that have been allowed to fall into disrepair," said DOB Commissioner Jimmy Oddo. "While DOB is committed to reducing the number of sheds citywide, we recognize that we will never get that number down to zero. Once we bring these two design teams on board, we can get to work improving the design of sidewalk sheds, so that when they are necessary to be installed at any property, they are enhancing and not detracting from the neighborhood."

"I cannot emphasize enough the importance of enhancing the quality of life for New Yorkers by ensuring that construction practices and regulations are effective, advantageous, and up-to-date," said MOCS Director Lisa Flores. "Sidewalk sheds should protect the public without causing inconvenience or blocking walkways. Through collaborative efforts with DOB under Mayor Adams' leadership, MOCS successfully navigated the procurement challenges and streamlined the contracting process to prioritize public safety and efficiency. Congratulations to the awardees."

"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," said Chief Public Realm Officer Ya-Ting Liu. "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.'"

Since Mayor Adams launched the "Get Sheds Down" plan in July 2023, the city has removed hundreds of sidewalk sheds from New York City sidewalks. Additionally, since the plan was announced, the city has removed 82 long-standing sheds (sheds that have been up for over five years) from the streets, and also removed the longest-standing shed in the city, which had been an eyesore in Harlem for over 21 years.

To help advance these efforts, DOB has released technical guidance to help the industry understand rules and processes regarding the use of safety netting. The Adams administration is also currently working with the New York City Council on legislation to allow for a wider variety of colors for sidewalk sheds, increase lighting requirements for sheds, reduce the duration of sidewalk shed permits, and introduce new penalties if building repairs are not performed in a timely manner.

Arup US and PAU were chosen after an extensive review of over a dozen applications that were submitted to the city through a public Request for Proposal process first launched in September 2023. A panel of senior DOB staff members carefully reviewed applications and selected firms with the most comprehensive plans to effectively deliver these new sidewalk shed designs for New Yorkers.

Arup US

Arup's New York Office has been established in the city for over 30 years, specializing in engineering, architecture, planning, and advisory services. The company has worked with city and state government agencies on projects including the Fulton Center subway and retail complex, the Lincoln Center redevelopment, Hudson River Park, the Second Avenue Subway line, Little Island, and the American Museum of Natural History Gilder Center. Arup US also has previous experience designing alternative pedestrian safety designs in New York City, previously taking part in the city's UrbanShed design competition in 2009.

Practice for Architecture & Urbanism

PAU is a minority-owned business that has worked on multiple projects in New York City, including the Domino Sugar Refinery redevelopment, 77 Water Street Privately Owned Public Space, and the Sunnyside Yard Master Plan. PAU has worked extensively with local community groups and advocacy organizations on social advocacy projects, using design to imagine improvements for New Yorkers.

"Today marks an historic step forward in Mayor Adams' 'Get Sheds Down' campaign, a transformative initiative to beautify our streets," said New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar. "We are launching the process of reimagining shed design while ensuring that there is no compromise to our safety. Sheds will be unintrusive, aesthetically pleasing, and — best of all — short-lived. That translates to more sunlight and increased foot traffic to street-level businesses. It also means fewer spots for bad apples to congregate. This plan will reclaim our streets from the nearly 10,000 sidewalk sheds hiding the charm of our city."

"I've made it a priority to make facade work faster, ensure sheds aren't left languishing on our sidewalks, and make the ones we do need are less impactful on local neighborhoods and our streetscapes. The designs the selected companies produce will start a process to reimagine what sheds look like," said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. "Congratulations to the Department of Buildings and the mayor on this launch. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with them and the Council to get shed reform done."

"Just about every New Yorker agrees that there's too much scaffolding across the city," said New York City Councilmember Keith Powers. "It seems to stay up forever and, frankly, looks terrible. That's why last year I introduced a legislative package to improve and modernize outdated regulations — and new design options are a key component of how we make that happen. I applaud Mayor Adams for prioritizing this issue and taking action on it."

"Today's announcement marks a turning point in providing a much-needed upgrade to the blight of current construction sheds, and making sidewalks safer and more pleasant for all New Yorkers," said Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO, New York Building Congress. "We look forward to seeing the transformative proposals, including from Building Congress member Arup, to revitalize our city's vibrant sidewalk scene."

"The Structural Engineers Association of New York looks forward to more options for sidewalk sheds and alternative solutions that provide pedestrian safety during construction activities, while complementing the architectural features of our beautiful city," said Yunlu Shen, PE, SE, president, Structural Engineers Association of New York.

"AIANY applauds Mayor Adams, Department of Buildings Commissioner Oddo, and Mayor's Office of Contract Serves Director Flores for taking another important step forward on the Get Sheds Down initiative," said Jesse Lazar, executive director, American Institute of Architects New York. "We look forward to continuing to work with the city to reimagine and improve shed design in order to make our public realm a more vibrant and accessible place for New Yorkers, while also prioritizing safety and creating cost-effective design solutions."

"We commend the Adams Administration for its efforts to redesign construction sheds to help improve quality of life and retail leasing opportunities," said Zachary Steinberg, senior vice president of policy, REBNY. "We look forward to working with the administration and other stakeholders on this important issue."

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