We had a great time speaking with students at the American Institute of Architecture (AIAS) Quad Conference this afternoon! Thanks to everyone who came out to hear our talk and we hope you have a great time visiting the Rose City.
Here are a few resources where you’ll find ideas, initiatives, and organizations dedicated to creative use of the right-of-way.
On September 17th 2010 people all over the world celebrated Parking Day by turning a parking space into a park… if only for a day. Here in Portland, several folks utilized reclaimed materials donated by the Rebuilding Center to create PedPlaza style platforms.
The design is simple, sturdy, and low-cost. If you decide to try one in your neighborhood, let us know!
An innovative outreach program in Philadelphia is generating grassroots action in city planning.
In 2007, the city launched the Imagine Philadelphia initiative, an effort to engage its everyday citizens in creating a vision for the future of their cityscape. Inspired by their city’s outreach effort, an informal group of planners and landscape architects called the Planning Collective responded with a plan to transform public right-of-way dead zones into microparks.
Emily Dowdall, a manager of the Reclaim Concrete project, explains: “The city is basically a grid, but there are cross-cutting diagonal streets that create these extra spaces.” These extra spaces exist today as double triangles of no-man’s land at the epicenter of chaotic 6-way intersections. The Planning Collective, however, recognized these areas as pockets of opportunity to add greenspace while transforming a traffic hazard into a pedestrian refuge.
“People are not sure how to navigate these intersections,” Dowdall said. “We needed to make it more logical – for walkers, bikers, and cars.” They selected a 4,000-square foot pilot site along Passyunk Avenue, one of Philadelphia’s most prominent diagonals. “We went to a lot of street fairs to get public input,” she said. From those suggestions, they drew up a design for a micropark with seating and planters for trees, shrubs, and flowers. “The area currently lacks greenspace, and we wanted to provide that for people.”
In addition to enhancing neighborhood aesthetics, the micropark would clearly delineate traffic lanes from the non-drivable areas of the intersection, helping all road users understand how to traverse the confusing space.
In the rebound of a recession, the Planning Collective is actively seeking a funding source to move the plan from paper to pavement. Following an (unsuccessful) bid for a $50,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project last month, they intend to speak to the local business associations in June about how to apply for funding from the neighborhood.
Reclaim Concrete hasn’t gotten a green light just yet. But this creative response to Philadelphia’s outreach effort demonstrates that the drive to create vibrant public space is present in the civic imagination – and that a little direction and encouragement from the City can get it on the right track.
The modular Walklet ™ units were designed by Rebar Group, a San Francisco design studio that inspired the International Parking Day movement with their two hour “intervention” in a downtown SF parking space. This Park(ing) project happened in November 2005. It was a simple act. They didn’t ask permission. They didn’t promote it. They just plugged a meter, rolled out some turf, and started filming. “Sort of makes you wonder what else you can do in a parking space…” concludes their writeup. Now we are beginning to find out.