The wood-and-steel structures that protect pedestrians at construction sites are getting a makeover to look like oversized umbrellas.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a new design Thursday that will hide less of a building's facade than the scaffolding in use now.
"The new structures will complement the city's architectural beauty rather than take it away from it, while increasing space and safety for pedestrians and reducing the impact of construction on businesses and building owners," Bloomberg said.
About 6,000 of the so-called sidewalk sheds are around the city, wherever buildings are going up or being renovated. Bloomberg said the structures haven't been redesigned since the 1950s.
Use of the big umbrellas will be voluntary, but property owners and building contractors will be encouraged to install them. They will gradually be phased in as new construction projects are undertaken.
The structures will cost about as much as the city's existing sidewalk sheds but will be cheaper to maintain, Bloomberg said.
Choi's design was selected from among 164 submitted by architects, engineers and students from 28 countries.
In renderings provided by City Hall, the structures look much airier than the scaffolding that New Yorkers are accustomed to.
Bloomberg said the umbrellas will make the sidewalks safer for pedestrians and will be good for business owners because storefronts will be more visible.
Choi will be awarded a $10,000 prize for his design.