Urban Umbrella Launches in Nation’s Capital, Expanding Its Event Canopies Product Line

NEW YORK, September 12, 2022--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Premium sidewalk scaffolding provider Urban Umbrella has recently launched a modular event canopies product with the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., catapulting the urban design firm beyond the realm of construction-based public protection. Founder and CEO Benjamin Krall noted that the company "saw an opportunity to penetrate the billion dollar event staging industry by transforming [their] premium scaffold material" for creative utilization beyond its traditional use-case. Urban Umbrella unveiled its event canopies product in June 2022 inside the Museum’s magnificent Great Hall, the company’s first ever job in the Nation’s Capital. The Museum utilized the Urban Umbrella system as the vessel for The Playhouse, an interactive, multifaceted staging area for their Summer Block Party performance series. The Urban Umbrella was featured prominently in the Folger Theatre Company’s first post-COVID live performance, a rendition of Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," held inside the Hall. Visitors passed through the structure, adorned with sheer navy curtains and colorful leafy cutouts, on entry into the performance’s seating area.

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Urban Umbrella's event canopies product installed inside the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Business Wire)

Museum Director of Operations Cathy Frankel was particularly pleased with the outcome, repeatedly referring to the Urban Umbrella as "a little jewel-box…able to stand out and hold its own in such a large space, while simultaneously providing a more intimate environment for guests." Frankel remarked that as a design-forward institution obsessed with the built environment and its betterment, the Museum was excited to "partner with a like-minded group such as Urban Umbrella." She expressed how they were "thrilled [to be] able to highlight the event scaffolding, featuring it as part of the installation rather than just hiding it away." In essence, a greater connection between patrons and their built space was fostered as "the structure became more than just a structure."

Urban Umbrella first launched its event product in late 2021, when it was chosen as staging for Bank of America’s annual Winter Village in New York City’s Bryant Park. The company beat out "a lot of" competitors to win the job, according to Irene Vagianos, Bryant Park’s VP of Brand Partnerships and Events who oversees the planning, production, and operation of Winter Village. As someone seeped in the world of urban design, adept at best managing public space to suit the disparate needs of New York City’s public, Vagianos’ praise holds high significance: "They are a better solution than old-fashioned scaffolding," she said, "…a much more aesthetically appropriate choice. [Urban Umbrella] has an attractive design and fits well with the rest of our architecture." Event organizers installed cozy heated igloos atop and besides the Urban Umbrella platform, which they adorned with wintery decorations. Patrons were able to dine within said igloos, enjoying festive food and beverages courtesy of local vendors. As Urban Umbrella’s first foray into the event rental industry, it was met with resounding success and praise.

At the core of Urban Umbrella’s new event canopies product is the structural frame of their standard sidewalk scaffolding, which Krall believes is far more appealing when compared to conventional staging systems. It’s also safer: "Events have relied on discordant assemblages of wood and metal," he continued, "for far too long. Urban Umbrella is certainly more aesthetically pleasing, but more importantly it is sturdier, easier to assemble, and generally more straightforward for event planners to work with." Urban Umbrella has highlighted its event canopies as "uniquely bespoke." The product is highly versatile, able to be used as both overhead protection and underfoot staging and support for all kinds of gatherings and occasions. It features height-adjustable legs and can incorporate lighting, signage, branding, and more; the company’s unparalleled kit-of-parts offers everything from speakers and cameras to heaters and fans, making event canopies entirely customizable per each client’s wants and needs.

Inquiries for Urban Umbrella’s event canopies have spanned festivals, theatrical performances, design conventions, conferences, and New York Fashion Week; one client even considered transforming the system into a ceremonial pergola for a wedding. Krall said that the company is working on a partnership with a major sporting venue to roll out the product at a boxing match this fall; contract talks with several artists from Art Basel are also ongoing.

Urban Umbrella is not solely focused on event staging; the company is actively looking to expand into other non-construction arenas. Urban Umbrella also produces other non-construction products for the healthcare, educational, retail, and hospitality industries. The company stepped up to provide necessary socially-distanced outdoor queue management solutions during the COVID-19 Pandemic. For this purpose, Urban Umbrellas were installed outside Lenox Hill Hospital over the last two winters, and at several other healthcare facilities. At a school in Downtown Brooklyn, Urban Umbrella canopies were brought in as a "Front Porch," doing double duty to maximize space needed for health screenings and socially-distant building entry while delineating and anchoring new outdoor classroom areas. Urban Umbrella canopies have since been deployed in multiple cities to help all kinds of businesses—from mom-and-pop stores to some of the world’s top luxury retailers—extend their footprints to the curb as sidewalks become a renewed venue for commerce. Under New York City’s Open Restaurants campaign, the company expanded its product line to install at over a dozen restaurants, providing safe yet aesthetic coverage for sidewalk, patio, and rooftop dining. These various adjacent product lines, says Krall, were hatched with and continue to be fueled by the same objective: "Making sure built spaces work for people, not against them."

In 2009, Urban Umbrella beat out over 260 contestants to win an international city-organized design competition aimed at creating a safer, more attractive, pedestrian-conscious alternative to traditional sidewalk scaffolding. Today, Urban Umbrella remains the designer, patent holder, and fabricator of the only alternative to traditional sidewalk scaffolding approved by the New York City Department of Buildings. In addition to sidewalk scaffolding and overhead protection, the company also provides canopies and event staging systems, custom façade netting, construction fencing, and level-five walls. Urban Umbrella is live in eight cities at present and is planning expansions into Miami Beach and Austin, Texas this fall. Additional information about Urban Umbrella is available at https://www.urbanumbrella.com/.

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