28-Year-Old’s Urban Umbrella Design Gives City a Facelift

By Adam Figman, Contract Editorial Intern

Urban umbrella 2 In an attempt to enrich the New York City pedestrian experience, the Buildings Department, in partnership with AIA, Alliance for Downtown New York, New York Building Congress, Illuminating Engineering Society New York Chapter, Association for a Better New York, SEAoNY and the Departments of Transportation and City Planning, has founded urbanSHED, an international design competition.  The goal of the contest was to find a safer way to protect walkers alongside buildings under construction.

The challenge’s winner, a 28-year-old first-year University of Pennsylvania architecture student named Young-Hwan Choi, developed a concept called “Urban Umbrella” that protects pedestrians while enriching lighting on the sidewalk.  

According to the Architectural Record, Choi worked with engineer Sarrah Kahn and Andres Cortest, both principals of New York-based design firm Agencie Group, to help finalize his concept. The structure they built resembles a metal umbrella, with curved beams supporting a roof and LED lighting illuminating the sidewalk at night.

Choi, who moved to the United States from Korea in the summer of 2009, was given a $10,000 prize for his successful effort.  He was chosen as a finalist with two others before he was declared the winner.  All of the entries are available at www.urbanshed.org.

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