Designed in New York and elegant enough for Paris, the Urban Umbrella’s statuesque silhouette is coming to the sidewalks of Toronto.
On Thursday, Ryerson University will unveil the scaffolding around its future Student Learning Centre at Yonge and Gould streets, but this is no ordinary plywood box.
The Umbrella has completely reconceived the unsightly pedestrian protection built over sidewalks during construction projects.
Its high, spindly archways are airy and open, letting in light through the translucent roof during the day and via LED lights at night. The tunnel looks more like a series of patio umbrellas than a roof to stop falling bricks.
“No one has tried to make something that looks good and feels good before,” said lead engineer Sarrah Khan, a Sarnia native who co-founded the company in New York six months ago.
Urban Umbrella started as an entry in a New York design competition two years ago. It won, and has been used in several small projects in the city since, but the real opportunity for Khan and her partners Andres Cortes and Scott Wagner came north of the border.
Here, hundreds of towers built in the coming years will each need a sidewalk shelter for up to three years.
“Toronto is changing from a provincial city to a world-class metropolis,” Khan said.