When people talk about the glories of New York City, they mention the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, its glorious Frederick Law Olmsted-designed parks, but they do not mention its 189 miles of scaffolding. This is probably not going to change, but there’s a good chance that the Softwalks project could make the scaffolding at least somewhat pleasant to live with. Softwalks’ pop-up park kit turns construction scaffolds — properly called “sidewalk sheds” — into parks so cute even a Brooklyn hipster would approve.
The Softwalks kit of parts consists of benches that can be affixed to the outside of scaffolding, light reflectors to reduce the glare of security lighting, countertops that rest on the crossbars so you can put your groceries down for a minute, and decorative plants for a splash of life and color. Together or separately, they turn sidewalk sheds (only on NON-ACTIVE CONSTRUCTION SITES PLEASE) from eyesores into useful structures that make the city more livable.
Scaffolding is not going away. There’s a law in New York that every five years each building must have its facade inspected, and unless they change this law, you’re going to see a lot of scaffolding in your neck of the woods (and all the other necks as well) for the foreseeable future. So rather than just looking at scaffolding as a blot on the landscape, perhaps we should join Softwalks in embracing it. And of course what better way to embrace it than by donating to its Kickstarter fund?