PARK(itects) Day

East Coast, Other
Friday, September 19, 2008
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In the Beginning: It all started with some chairs and a bike rack on Bedford Ave five years ago. Courtesy Transportation Alternatives

In the Beginning: It all started with some chairs and a bike rack on Bedford Ave five years ago. Courtesy Transportation Alternatives

On this brisk fall day, why not hit the park for lunch, especially since there’s one closer than you think. Today is the city’s second annual PARK(ing) Day, an event hosted by Transportation Alternatives and the Trust for Public Space where various civic and volunteer groups have taken over parking spaces citywide–if you look at the map, it’s really mostly Manhattan, and Manhattan between Houston and 34th Street at that–and turned them into “parks.”

This year has twice as many parks as last year, at a total of 50. But more than just expanding the size of the project, Transportation Alternatives wanted to test the limits of what these pocket open spaces could be. This led to a partnership with the local AIA chapter and the Center for Architecture, who led an outreach effort to get designers involved.

“What I like best is how each of their spaces really represents what architects and planners would do with 100 square feet of street space, if they had their way,” Wiley Norvell, the communications director at Transportation Alternatives, wrote in an email. “It shows the latent potential of our streets as untapped public space.” (It’s an idea that has become increasingly popular with the Bloomberg administration, following the failure of Congestion Pricing.)

PARK(ing) Day is now a national event thanks in large part to the efforts of REBAR, a San Francisco arts collective that began taking over spaces about the same time Transporation Alternatives did, in the fall of 2005–then it was just a single spot with some grass and bike parking on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. “The origins of this type of direct action are a little murky, but we like to think we got in pretty early,” Norvell wrote.

A full list of “parks” can be found through the map link above, but for the design afficionados out there, here are some points of interest. (We’re headed out now to drop in on a few of them, so
check back later for a full report.)

Center for Architecture Park, by the Center for Architecture (AIANY), LaGuardia Pl. and Bleecker St

Architecture for Humanity, by AFHNY, Madison Ave. and E. 73rd St.

Buckminster Fuller Park, by the Buckminster Fuller Institute, Bedford Ave. and N. 10th St., Brooklyn

City in a Box, by DEGW, Thompson St. and Spring St.

Cook + Fox Park, by Cook + Fox Architects,

EDAW Park, by EDAW, W. 27th St. and Broadway

Ensoo Shimas Park, by Artec/YMA, 6th Ave. and W. 23rd St.

High Line Park, by Friends of the High Line, 9th Ave. and W. 19th St.

Noguchi Red Cube, by the Noguchi Museum, Broadway and Liberty St.

Office Parking, by HR&A Advisers, Broadway and W. 58th St.

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