Today, pocket parklets popped up across the country for Rebar Group's 2017 PARK(ing) Day – now a beloved tradition among public space enthusiasts and designers. According to the PARK(ing) Day Manual, the celebration treats metered parking spots as a "short-term lease for a plot of precious urban real estate." In place of parked cars, a range of creative interventions abound. This year, the American Society of Landscape Architects asked landscape architects all over the country to invest their quarters on temporary, miniature green spaces. Here are some of our favorites from the #ASLAPD17 hashtag on social media. Site Design Group in Chicago built a human-powered hamster wheel, albeit with one glaring design flaw: the absence of an attached grass smoothie machine. In Baltimore, Hord Coplan Macht constructed a peaceful little greenspace with terraced timber seating. D.C.'s Landscape Architecture Bureau (LAB) built a small field of artificial tulips from plastic taken from the Anacostia Watershed. L.A.'s AHBE LAB privileged the deep thatch in a rewilding of a parking space recalling Agnes Denes' 1982 Wheatfield in Battery Park Landfill. https://twitter.com/ahbeland/status/908757935999803392 From Instagram, Seattle's Weisman Design Group created seesaws and tetherballs amid tall grasses that we really wish were permanent. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEdSumFbSg/?taken-by=weismandesigngroup The ASLA's branch at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona constructed a lovely raised topographic seating area. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEw2TXlNUZ/?taken-by=asu_asla Finally, in Austin, Texas, Daniel Woodroofe Group put up a hedge public hammocks. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZEqDLjnJ6q/?taken-by=studiodwg Other parklets are permanent. As The New York Times reported in late August, 18 curbside pop-up spaces have appeared across New York City alone (double last year's count), and they're here to stay. Most of these spaces have been created through a partnership between the city's Transportation Department and local groups, including the Parsons School of Design, which created a flexible space called Street Seats with planters constructed of bamboo and movable seating. PARK(ing) Day has catalyzed similar programs nationwide. Regardless of its permanence, parklets remain a charming, temporary form of urban acupuncture expanding public and green space.
Posts tagged with "Parklets":
Tactical Urbanism takes time: Architecture students build downtown Portland's first parklet despite regulatory permitting hurdles
Word is out that downtown Portland, Oregon, has its first parklet. Designed by a team of Portland State University architecture students and led by assistant architecture professor B. D. Wortham-Galvin, the 41-foot-long public park covers two parking spaces and opened in June on Southwest 4th Avenue. https://youtu.be/y3s16HcyhjA Made out of juniper, reclaimed materials, and powder-coated steel, the small space provides ample seating and jaunty bent-metal tables for patrons of nearby eateries and food trucks—or any other member of the public who needs a place to sit a spell. The project is a collaboration between SoMa EcoDistrict, PSU School of Architecture, Sustainability Neighborhoods Initiative, and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. While it is the neighborhood's first public parklet, it’s not, however, the city’s first parklet. In 2012, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, following the models of San Francisco and New York, embarked on the pilot Street Seats program that allows businesses or non-profit organizations to convert on-street parking into a public micro-park. The parklet offers important transparency into the time and labor that is required for tactical urbanism projects to go from design to permitting to realization. The PSU students began design development as part of a Fall 2013 studio, the city permitted the structure in late 2014, and the ribbon cutting was on June 1. Portland Monthly reported that the design-build project required 1,650 hours of work over the course of 18 months. The team raised more that $15,000 in crowd-funding and in-kind donations to offset the cost of construction and lost city revenue from paid parking. Covering that revenue is pivotal to the parklet’s lifespan and ultimate impact on the urban fabric. “When people ask if it is permanent, we have fundraised to build it and to pay the lost revenue for the next year,” Wortham-Galvin told the PSU Vanguard. “Whether it stays or not has nothing to do with permanence, but obviously at some point someone will have to take the initiative to keep paying the lost revenue for the city.” She told AN that the next phase of the project is just beginning: a post-occupancy study conducted by the students. They're interested in how the materials hold up and how the parklet is used during the whole day, not just the lunchtime rush. Wortham-Galvin suggested that an important metric is increased public will, or how one public amenity creates demand for more.
A new parklet has popped up in Washington D.C., and unlike the short-lived public spaces that appear in parking spaces for PARK(ing) Day, this one is sticking around until mid-October. The seasonal space, dubbed parKIT, opened on July 14 and takes over two parking spots. parKIT features yellow triangular benches and planters and was created by two designers at Gensler who won an in-house competition for the project. (The parklet sits right outside of Gensler's Washington office. Golden Triangle Business Improvement District funded the project and will be hosting small events with Gensler in the space once a week. "We are always looking for more ways for people to enjoy the outdoors in our great neighborhood," said Leona Agouridis, executive director of the BID in a statement. "While we have many parks, this is a fun way to think differently about a part of our community." If you're in the District and want to park it at parKIT, swing by 2020 K Street NW. [h/t GreaterGreaterWashington]
Parklets are coming to Cleveland. The urban planning tool remaking urban streetscapes from Los Angeles to Chicago got a nod from Cleveland's Planning Commission last week, clearing the way for an outdoor living room to replace a parking space in front of the popular Noodlecat restaurant at 234 Euclid Avenue. Pending permits, the pedestrian area and space for street theater should pop up in less than one month, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Steven Litt. The nonprofit Historic Gateway Neighborhood Corp. worked with David Jurca of Kent State University's Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and architect Jason Rohal of Vocon to design the space, gathering about half the of the necessary $7,000 from the co-op Cleveland Collectivo. Cleveland's first miniature, plug-in public space will take the form of a wooden deck, outfitted with moveable furniture and stools. If it's popular, it could be the first of many.
On December 3 Seattle opened its first Downtown parklet, at 1516 Second Avenue, a block from Pike Place Market. Designed by Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, built by Krekow Jennings, and funded by Urban Visions, the Chromer Building parklet is named for the distinctive red building—an early home to Amazon—that it fronts. Stretching the distance of five streetside parking spaces, the project consist of a series of wooden platforms bridging between bright red concrete seating blocks and topped with movable tables and chairs. In addition to providing a space for lounging and eating, the parklet is also designed for performances, with the platforms and blocks doubling as stages. Thanks to Seattle's Pilot Parklets Program the city's Department of Transportation has already opened four previous parklets, in Wallingford, the Central District, Chinatown, and Capitol Hill. The program will create fifteen total streetside parks. Check out pictures of the Chromer Building parklet, and other new Seattle parklets, below.
It seems like just yesterday that Los Angeles opened its first downtown Parklet, a sparkling new design on Spring Street by architects utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps. But a few weeks ago that design (already getting a little shabby from weather and use) was rammed and badly compromised by an errant motorist, leaving it closed, and leaving downtown without a parklet to speak of more than two years after the city’s parklet program began. According to CBE Los Angeles, the driver had moments, earlier been, kicked out of a club nearby and commandeered a friend's car using its keyless ignition. The suspected drunk driver side-swiped several parked cars before hitting the parklet. Three people sustained injuries from flying debris during the incident and were hospitalized. LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) spokesperson Lisa Martellaro-Palmer told AN that the city is in the process of rebuilding the parklet, and that the fix will happen “in the near future,” although the timeline has not been determined. Its sister parklet, about a block north, remains intact. So far, there are seven more parklets and plazas moving ahead in the city as part of the LADOT's People Street Program. One of them is downtown, on Hope Street.
From Los Angeles to Chicago, city governments across the nation have been following San Francisco’s early lead and popping up parklets on their streets, mini sidewalk-side public parks for rest, small group gatherings, and people watching. This summer, Boston joined in on the trend, installing its first parklet in Mission Hill in September and another in Jamaica Plain at Hyde Square. While these spaces have seen success in other cities, the Boston Globe reported that the Boston parklets have shown disappointing usage during what should have been their prime season. Although no scientific surveys have been collected, observations from nearby business owners, community members, and the Globe staff have indicated that these new whimsical spaces in Boston are not seeing much traffic. Boston Transportation Department planning director Vineet Gupta admitted that the city government was expecting a lot more of a parklet embrace from the community, but assured that the low usage during this fall’s debut is only a side effect of the newness of the streetscape change. Each parklet cost around $15,000 to $25,000. “This is true for parklets; it’s true for bike lanes; it’s true for bus lanes—it’s true for any innovation in the transportation world,” Gupta told the Globe. “Initially, you don’t see the kind of use that one would hope, but things pick up.” However, Boston officials are now wondering whether they should go back to the drawing board on the design and placement of these small public spaces. In San Francisco, a parklet’s success often depends on the community’s need for public seating and the site’s distance from a full-scale park or public plaza. In Chicago, some parklets have been planted with water retaining vegetation and installed in flood zones, creating a dual community benefit. Even elsewhere in Massachusetts, a Lexington parklet was first created as a bike corral to gauge public opinion. Gupta commented that the Transportation Department plans to conduct official public surveys next year for solutions to increase Boston parklet popularity. “In many instances from around the country, it’s a little bit of a learning process, and each location is unique,” he said. “We’re learning and we’re going to make modifications if necessary.”
Earlier this week, AN reported on the opening of Los Angeles's first parklet in Eagle Rock. Thursday saw the arrival of the city's second and third sidewalk-extending mini-parks, located on Spring Street in Downtown LA's historic core. Created by architects/developers utopiad.org, designers Berry and Linné, and builders Hensel Phelps, the 40 foot by 60 foot parklets, located just a few parallel parking spots from each other, are impressively detailed and fitted, with wood planter boxes, minimalist bench seating, stone pavers, hardwood decking, and quirky touches like seat swings, astro turf, bar seats, colorful fences, foosball tables, and exercise bikes. "We wanted them to pop," said Rob Berry of Berry and Linné. "A lot of parklets can be pretty minimal." Both are located on former active parking spaces, a reason that they took more than a year to get through the city's approval process. "We can close a parking space and it's not going to be the end of the world," said Siobhan Burke, one of the parks' designers. Rounding out the city's four-parklet pilot program, The last parklet opens next weekend in El Sereno, a neighborhood in East LA. Funding came from the Gilbert Foundation, but most of the work was delivered pro bono. "I can't believe this is LA," said Daveed Kapoor, one of the leaders of the design team. "It's better late than never. Now I want more."
Our friend Alissa Walker reports in LA Weekly that San Francisco's Parklet craze (SF now has 23 of the parks built on former parking spaces) has reached the streets of Long Beach. Designed by Studio One Eleven, Southern California's first parklet is a 30-foot-by-7-foot space with wood decking just outside of the city's Lola's Mexican restaurant. Lola's owner, Luis Navarro, paid for the $20,000 parklet, plus the cost of the chairs and tables. According to the story two more Long Beach parklets will be opening in the next few months—one at a coffee shop and one at a Vietnamese restaurant. Meanwhile LA is on the way to getting its own parklets (hopefully) thanks to the launch of its Parklets Program at the end of last year.
What if we could transform part of the massive space we dedicate to urban parking into public parks, and what would it look like? On Friday, over 100 cities worldwide participated in the sixth annual PARK(ing) Day, where citizens and designers temporarily converted metered parking spots into open public space. While we couldn't jet set around the world, a couple of our reporters checked out the happenings in California, where the concept was born. Before you check out the parks, we should mention that these grassroots efforts are slowly influencing permanent change. In San Francisco, a City Planning Department collaboration with design firm Rebar, which helped begin PARK(ing) Day, has led to the creation of the “Parklets” program, where parking spots around the city are being converted into permanent plazas and outdoor seating. And on Friday, LA City Council members Jan Perry and Jose Huizar announced a partnership with local neighborhood groups in downtown LA and Eagle Rock to begin a Parklets pilot program in Los Angeles. San Francisco, by Ariel Rosenstock Visiting the west coast for the week, I had the opportunity to check out PARK(ing) Day in San Francisco. It was a perfect September day in northern California, crisp but sunny and a little breezy. Walking north along Valencia Street, I arrived at the first park: a grassy patch with a petite shed with a mini green roof. I talked with Jeanette Arpagaus, from the Green Roof Alliance, who discussed her foray into the green business after hearing an inspiring lecture by scientist Paul Kemper, from the California Academy of Sciences. Parking spots were creatively fashioned into a variety of venues. Further north was an outdoor yoga session—a parking space lined with yoga mats and visitors perfecting their stretches. Continuing down Valencia, I spotted a pallet wood structure bordering a parking space with a tree rising from the center. Here I met Andrew Dunbar from Interstice Architects, who was dressed in a pirate costume. He told me that the “Parrrrrrrrrk-let” represented a pirate ship, with decks for seating, and the tree a “mast.” The Interstice park was located in front of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit after school writing program that houses a pirate-wares shop in the storefront. Dunbar also explained that the volume enclosed by the pallet wood ship represented 800 cubic feet, the amount of soil a tree requires for healthy roots. He was proud to support the Robin Hood style cause. For my last stop, I was urged to pet Shaun the Sheep down the street. Outside of the coffee shop, Ritual, was a tiny urban barn: two parking spaces were lined with hay benching and a mini alfalfa patch for the sheep. Los Angeles, by Sam Lubell Perhaps it's the economy or a slight dip in enthusiasm, but it was a pretty disappointing Park(ing) Day in LA, with fewer architecture and landscape firms taking part, and fewer parks with more creative elements than turf and tents . But still some of the city's mini parks managed to stand out on this uncharacteristically grey day in the city. By far the most impressive was Standard's park outside of Silver Lake restaurant Local. The project was highlighted by a topiary-like artificial turf "PARK" sign, wrapped around plywood and sitting in front of elegant sandboxes and beach chairs that while at first sitting empty eventually became quite popular. Just down the street the Echo Park Time Bank put together a park called "Visions of the Circuit City Ruins," that while not much design-wise, was a lot of fun. Visitors were asked to think of replacements for the abandoned Circuit City behind the park (ideas included a roller rink, a plant forest and a film center), and were treated to astrology readings and free shots of water infused with "clarity" and "absolute joy". In Downtown LA Pfeiffer Partners put together a plant shrouded park on 7th Street. Benches and walls made of plywood shipping crates and a floor made of carpet samples showed imagination. Right next door SWA put together a flexible canopy made entirely of used plastic bags (to be recycled later) and PVC piping. The Downtown LA Neighborhood Council's park on 7th and Spring showed a lot of energy, with it's sod floor and potted plant barriers abutting one of Downtown's most walkable streets. A nice touch were bikes that could be pedaled in place to recreate the experience of biking downtown. On West 3rd street in West Hollywood local firm Front Yard Farming showed off a line of parklets showcasing simple but pretty flowers, tables, chairs, and willow fencing over a sod groundscape. But unfortunately the crowd wasn't having it. C0-organizer Helen Jupiter, author of blog Front Yardening, said that "out of 50 people walking by, about 42 didn't even look at us." Must be something in the air, because in other parts of the city crowds gathered, and one school group even made an effort to visit every parking day structure the city had to offer.