First-year architecture student Young-Hwan Choi won the urbanSHED International Design Competition with a design that would replace New York City’s sidewalk sheds with slim metal umbrellas.

Choi’s schematic vision is a shape-shifter. By day it resembles a row of trees, with branches that curve upward to support a canopy of green- and amber-colored plastic panels, allowing sunlight through while still protecting the walkers and shoppers below. By night these metal branches catch the streetlight, and the umbrellas glow like urban chandeliers. Down on street level, thin support poles allow pedestrians more breathing room than the boxy scaffolding of the old shed design. Instead of obscuring the architecture around them, says transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Choi’s design “invites New Yorkers’ eyes back up from the sidewalk.” 

—Sean Whiteman LPS’11

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