Celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Park(ing) Day

Park(ing) Day at SPUR in San Francisco, 2009 / Colleen McHugh

On Friday, September 17, the ASLA community will participate in Park(ing) Day, the annual global event that encourages landscape architects, students, ASLA chapters, and all people who care about the quality of the public realm to re-imagine our streetscapes one parking space at a time.

This creative transformation of parking spaces into parklets and inventive alternatives to an automobile-dominated environment helps communities see the incredible potential of streetscapes, which can comprise up to 80 percent of public space in cities.

This year also marks the 15th anniversary of Park(ing) Day! Rebar, a collective of landscape architects, planners, and designers, created the first Park(ing) Day installation in 2005, and the first annual Park(ing) Day event in 2006.

Park(ing) Day was first conceived of as a user-generated, open-source event created by and for many people. The event has led to a global movement that has enabled communities re-imagine their streets, increase social connections, and improve health and well-being. In many communities, Park(ing) Day has led to new permanent parklets, plazas, and an expanded public realm.

The innovative models created through Park(ing) Day also laid the groundwork for the re-design of streetscapes in the wake of COVID-19. Communities have responded to the need for social distancing and concerns about the safety of indoor environments by taking back streets. Temporary parklets, patios, and street plazas have proliferated. Curbside space has been repurposed for dining, commerce, or green space. Vehicles have been banned, and streets turned over to pedestrians and cyclists. Now the goal is to make many of these improvements permanent!

According to landscape architect John Bela, ASLA, co-creator of Park(ing) Day, “many communities are grappling with what happens next with ‘temporary’ outdoor spaces. Landscape architects have a special role to play in shaping the future of these spaces and balancing the use of our streets and public right of way.”

This year, ASLA’s Park(ing) Day challenge will highlight how landscape architects design imaginative public spaces in streetscapes that adhere to safe, socially distant principles — all within the confines of a parking space (or two).

Ways to participate:

  • Take photos of street parklets, patios, and plazas designed by landscape architects and designers in your community. Please be sure to include the designer’s name if you know it.
  • Build out a traditional Park(ing) Day space that is a model for re-imagined curbside activity.

Then, on September 17, post your images on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #ASLAParkingDay.

Learn more about issues related to racial justice and equity in streetscape projects. Some of these issues are explored in Safe Streets Are Not Safe for Black Lives by Dr. Destiny Thomas in Bloomberg CityLab.

ASLA will highlight the best posts from students, firms, and chapters across our national communications platforms. Have fun (safely, of course)!

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