I apologize dear readers (both of you) for being away for so long…I was lucky enough to acquire some freelance work that tied me up for the past 5-6 weeks. It was great to work and actually watch money go into my account as opposed to the opposite. So, without further adieu, back to things:
Have you ever stopped to wonder why all sidewalk sheds and scaffolding tend to be blue? If yes, then you are definitely awake because we are certainly surrounded by a
shit-ton boatload of it! According to the NY Times, “there are an estimated 6,000 sidewalk sheds in the city, covering more than one million linear feet, according to the city” with it “estimated that 30 percent of Broadway, between 59th Street and Houston Street, was sheathed in scaffolding.” That is a sea of blue!
Fine, I rescind my statement that they are all blue but they are still all fugly!:
Apparently, one of the reasons for so much blue is the fact that “Fueling the growth has been a city regulation, Local Law 11, a thorn in the side of building owners that requires exterior examinations of buildings of more than five stories every five years, an act that almost always requires the installation of a sidewalk shed as work is competed overhead.” SO, obviously we are going to be surrounded by these things let’s rethink them and how they can improve the aesthetic of the city.
To begin, why is it all the same color? Is there a regulation stating so? Is it done for safety, making blue the unofficial warning to watch out for falling construction objects and leering men with a ton of testosterone? I asked around and called a few places and found out that actually there weren’t any regulations regarding the color of the wood separating construction sites from the public. The responses I received actually ranged from the un-engaged “You wanna know what? Why? Oh. Uhhh, I think it was the paint we had left over from a job the week before.” to a fervor not unlike that of a fan of SEC football “of course we have a specific blue! With that many blue’s you have to set yourself apart! Can’t you tell the difference between our Royal Blue and (other company)’s blue?”.
So, I began fixating on them. And that was no fun. There are so many other things to look at on a block than construction areas. 99% of that time the other items are far more interesting to look at. The more and more I thought about it the better (at least in my opinion) my ideas for these spaces became just SO much more incredible than what was going on. In fact, I was, simply put, AN OUTRIGHT GENIUS for coming up with these ideas. I was ON FIRE when it came to these items, En Fuego folks…EN FU-AYYY-GO! So, of course, when I got in I began to research these ideas on the web and like any decent idea, it had already been done…to a point at least. Take a look at this site and then a look at this one. The Urban Umbrella idea by Agencie is fantastic and should serve as an example of more creative ways we can design our city than a piece of plywood painted blue. The topic has been broached but I must say I have never seen any of these prints (from the first of the two links) around town? This post about them is from September 2010. Have they already come and gone? I am sure the initial investment is going to be greater than a scrim that was one color but it will last just as long and, if the rental price is not too different than the monochromatic version, should be a desirable item.
In addition to the painted scrims and the soon to be everywhere Urban Umbrella, I found myself envisioning what was an enormous series of public projects all taking different approaches, so to speak, and forms. I saws murals, projections, photographs and sculptures all over the walls separating us from the construction sites. If done properly and in the right area, one could even project a series of images or films. The goal however would have to be an attempt at an ArtSpace as opposed to AdSpace.
Nothing sold over here folks but engagement with your urban landscape.
Another thought would be to create an interactive type of game that children of all ages could play. I can still remember the sheer elation that finding Goldbug in Richard Scarry books used to bring me when I was learning to read. Why not a city-wide “Find Goldbug” campaign? An NYC specific character could be created and away that project goes!
Why can’t we add color to this city where color can actually find a place? There is already so much concrete and rarely a variety of color. Unless, of course, you count the 4 different shades of blue around construction areas.
A final issue I wanted to mention is with this sea of blue there is no identity created. No matter what the building that lies behind the protective walls looks like all character is temporarily erased and it has become an anonymous fixture in NYC’s urban landscape. It isn’t even providing the purpose that wrapping paper would because it is so droll. Why couldn’t a building’s character or identity be realized through slightly more site-specific installations or scrims? I know I am getting into an expensive series of ideas here in addition to asking an already stressed industry to spend more money when it is desperately seeking ways to reduce expenditures but it would create jobs, quite a few if you think about the entire process that a scrim with a different design would go through to create. Too many to discard the idea immediately, that is for certain. Dwell.