New York, New York
urbanSHED International
Design Competition

Photos: Urban Umbrella, WXY Architecture + Urban Design, Dovetail Design Strategists


Young-Hwan Choi with Sarrah
Khan and Andrés Cortés of
Agencie Group

Dovetail Design Strategists crafted and led an international design competition for the City of New York; the project was unique: to create a new standard of sidewalk scaffolding. More than 6,000 sidewalk sheds flank New York City’s buildings and construction sites. They span more than 1,000,000 linear feet and typically stay in place for more than a year. Built to protect pedestrians walking alongside buildings during construction, their design had not been revisited in over 50 years.

The competition challenged architects and engineers to reimagine the sidewalk shed while ensuring the multi-purpose complexity of its function. Dovetail devised a world-class jury of renowned architects, engineers, and civic decision-makers, as well as a technical advisory group, and initiated an innovative two-stage, open competition that generated hundreds of designs from 28 countries. Once the competitors were narrowed down to three finalists, they were awarded stipends to further develop their concepts to ensure safety, sustainability, and prove their concept design’s constructability.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg held a televised press event announcing the competition winners, young architects Young-Hwan Choi and Andrés Cortés, and young female engineer, Sarrah Khan. The selected design, titled Urban Umbrella, provided better storefront access, complemented a mix of streetscapes, created a redefined experience for pedestrians, and had aesthetic beauty.

Urban Umbrella, now a company founded and led by CEO Benjamin Krall has erected the scaffolding in all five boroughs of NYC and beyond. Learn more about their work on their website:

Following the completion of the urbanSHED competition, the City of New York hired Dovetail again to launch the urbancanvas Design Competition, a national competition for artists and designers to bring professional artwork to construction sites. The exceptional outcomes of both competitions have had an immense positive impact on New York’s cityscape, enriching the quality of life for residents and visitors alike.