Construction sites throughout New York City may become more artistic (or artsy, at least) even while these indeterminate works in progress are sluggishly progressing. “Colorful umbrellas,” delightful to the eye, may replace the eye-irritating one-story scaffolds of old.

The Bloomberg administration announced Thursday the winner of its sidewalk shed design competition, with the winner being Young-Hwan Choi, a first-year architecture student at Penn who designed a new scheme evocative of an array of colorful umbrellas. The key development: the design will be approved for use by the Department of Buildings, giving building owners and renovators the ability to erect the sheds anywhere they please.

To protect pedestrians from falling objects, while at the same time casting unsightly and smelly contrivances in their path, scaffolding is required around building projects over five stories high. Consisting of steel poles lined with plywood, displaying the most drab signature colors, they are as ubiquitous as the construction is constant; a very popular distraction to both tourists and native New Yorkers. “Urban planners decry the way in which the sheds detract from the life of the street, blanketing the sidewalk in a dark, pole-filled cover.”

I suppose that a spoonful of sugar (or attractive colors) will help the medicine go down and every little spoonful of such sweetness could only help; if anything, it won’t hurt. The first umbrella shed is scheduled to go up in Lower Manhattan, which is rife with construction even if Ground Zero remains rife with indecision.

New York Observer