“Providing temporary public open space . . . one parking spot at at time.”
PARK(ing) Day, an annual event where parking spots are repurposed as pop-up parks and public spaces, is set for Friday, September 20, 2013. After starting out in 2005 with a single site in San Francisco, PARK(ing) Day has grown into a worldwide celebration of the potential for urban green space to take root, however briefly, on any available patch of pavement.
Rebar, the interdisciplinary art and design studio responsible for creating PARK(ing) Day, has this to say about the motivating forces behind it:
One of the more critical issues facing outdoor urban human habitat is the dearth of space for humans to rest, relax, or just do nothing. For example, more than 70% of San Francisco’s downtown outdoor space is dedicated to the private vehicle, while only a fraction of that space is allocated to the public realm.
Paying the meter of a parking space enables one to rent precious downtown real estate. What is the range of possible occupancy activities for this short-term lease? PARK(ing) is an investigation into reprogramming a typical unit of private vehicular space by leasing a metered parking spot for public recreational activity.
Since then, Rebar has promoted the continuation and expansion of PARK(ing) Day as an “open-source” project and created a how-to manual for those who want to create their own parks, enabling the movement to incorporate wider-ranging social issues. In addition to introducing much-needed pockets of green space, PARK(ing) Day interventions have also included: free health clinics, ecology demonstrations, temporary urban farms, political seminars, and art installations.
North Carolina State University’s Student ASLA Chapter was an enthusiastic participant in PARK(ing) Day 2012. Bethany Windle, president of NC State’s Student ASLA Chapter, has summarized the experience:
Our PARK(ing) Day spots were located on Fayetteville Street in Downtown Raleigh in front of the ABC 11 News Station. One of the primary goals of this endeavor was to promote our students’ work in the community, and to encourage engagement between NC State’s Department of Landscape Architecture, the College of Design, landscape architecture professionals, and the public.
We reserved three parking spots for the event with a planting design that occupied two spaces. The concept for this design was a simple message to the public: Raleigh has wonderful parks and greenspaces–go check them out; they are closer than you think! The set-up for the small parklet in our reserved PARK(ing) Day spaces included sod, potted trees, perennials, shrubs and grasses, four benches, and slate stone pavers. There was also a promotional area with a table and a large map from the City of Raleigh Parks Department showing where parks, greenways, and greenspaces are located throughout the city. The City also donated bike maps to hand out to the public and those interested in learning about PARK(ing) Day. Additionally, one student created WalkRaleigh signs (from our distinguished alum Matt Tomasulo’s Walk Your City website). These signs called out the distances and times to access Raleigh’s greenspaces by foot and by bike in relation to our PARK(ing) Day site.
A committed group of students planned and coordinated this effort, including the site design, materials transportation, and set, as well as media press releases, interviews, and public relations materials.
We hope that you can check out (or participate in) a PARK(ing) Day event near you! The full list of locations can be found on PARK(ing) Day’s website, but here are a few sample events co-sponsored by ASLA chapters:
- ASLA Kentucky, in partnership with Architecture for Humanity and University of Kentucky Landscape Architecture, is sponsoring Lexington’s PARK(ing) Day event this year, with a total of 15-20 parking spaces rented for the day along Short Street.
- ASLA Minnesota is coordinating a temporary park collaboration between Women in Landscape Architecture (WILA) and students of the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource (FAIR) school in downtown Minneapolis.
- ASLA Rhode Island is hosting one of downtown Providence’s 35 parklets on PARK(ing) Day.