By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The building housing the office of Town & Village and dozens of other businesses has become the first in the city to install a scaffold bridge that isn’t a wall of metallic ugliness.
The building’s landlord, ABS Partners Real Estate, recently partnered with Urban Umbrella, a scaffolding firm based in Toronto, Canada, while the 16-story building at 20 West 22nd Street undergoes the Local Law 11 work to maintain the exterior walls.
The scaffolding, made with translucent plastic panels and recycled steel, resembles an unfolding umbrella when seen from underneath and is lit with environmentally-friendly LED lights.
Urban Umbrella co-founder Benjamin Krall said in a statement that the company originally installed scaffolding in Canadian cities Toronto and Vancouver before bringing a more scalable and affordable version of the structures to New York.
“There are more than 10,000 scaffolding bridges in New York City that are hindering foot traffic and affecting the amount of business that companies get while hidden behind construction work,” Krall said. “In New York, there has never been an alternative to these unattractive hunter green scaffolding bridges until now.”
Robert Finkelstein, an executive managing director at ABS, said that the company wanted to offer tenants and passersby something more eye-catching that the usual scaffolding while the building undergoes the necessary maintenance work.
“Urban Umbrella puts an artistic twist on traditional sidewalk sheds, which are often an eyesore,” he said.
The scaffolding was designed by architect Andres Cortes, designer Young Choi and structural engineer Sarrah Khan and the sidewalk bridges and won the urbanSHED International Design Competition in 2009, which was held by the Department of Buildings and other partners to rethink and redesign the idea of scaffolding.
The reward for winning the competition was a $10,000 prize, which allowed the company to perfect the structures in Toronto before returning to New York. The scaffolding will also soon be installed at 19 Murray Street.
The West 22nd Street building is LEED certified and in addition to Town & Village, houses the offices of T&V’s sister publication, Real Estate Weekly, Toto USA, Lanvin, Go-Go Squeeze, The Affordable Art Fair and The Washington Post.