Crafty Construction

Urbancanvas blog

When my apartment complex added a temporary sidewalk covering in front of my building last week, I groaned. Now, I'm a little excited to see what this covering might soon hold as a modern canvas for urban art, with the newly announced Urbancanvas competition.

The New York City Department of Buildings has announced a design competition welcoming artists and designers to craft alternative, prettier possibilities for construction-site sidewalk coverings. This Urbancanvas project is sponsored by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to the Mayor's Fund. Entries can be submitted until July 19 at

A jury from the building and construction communities will recommend six to eight design proposals to a design commission, who will approve up to four winning designs. The winners will each be awarded $7,500; appear on the competition Web site; and be featured on a protective sidewalk structure.

Entries will be judged for their aesthetic merit and adaptability to suit a range of temporary structures. Designs for several structures should be compatible, working as an artistic whole, or capable of standing alone as a single art piece.

“Construction is vital to keeping our city’s economic engines running, but the temporary structures needed to protect New Yorkers during construction can become a nuisance to neighbors,” says buildings commissioner Robert LiMandri in a statement. “This contest is designed to bring the beauty back to our buildings and encourage developers to maintain their sites in a safe manner.”

There are over 6,000 of these construction-area coverings in New York City, and this sounds like a great plan to me – transforming so many temporary eyesores into attractive tributes to beautiful art and design.

–Lillian Civantos

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