If you have ever walked the streets of the Big Apple, you must have seen these scaffoldings and even their dark green painted wooden cladding. Normal for such a big city in perpetual works? On closer inspection, however, a large part of this equipment does not concern buildings under construction or major renovation. And, above all, they sometimes stay there for years. So why are they there?
The explanation is to be found in a local New York law. The text dates back to the end of the 1970s, after a fatal accident involving a student killed by the fall of facade elements from the 8th floor of a building. A text completed in 1997 after another series of incidents related to buildings in poor condition. Nicknamed the “scaffolding law”, this provision obliges the owners of buildings of more than 6 floors to have their facade inspected by a structural engineer or an architect, every 5 years. And everything is very codified in the installation of these scaffoldings, up to their color: a dark green called “hunter green” must be used. A meticulous inspection requiring the replacement of the slightest facade defect then intervenes, pushing some owners to keep the scaffolding between two inspections to limit costs.
More than 260 days on average
A situation that is not without its drawbacks, with temporary installations that sometimes become permanent, like this scaffolding that would have remained in place for 15 years. But it is above all a very expensive provision, the scaffolding industry weighing 8 billion dollars in New York, according to the site w42st. For several years now, an interactive map has made it possible to permanently follow the installation of these scaffoldings and the duration for which they have been in place. In New York, their total number now exceeds 9,000 units, a figure that has tripled in 20 years. As for the average installation time, it is substantial since it exceeds 260 days.