by Jenny Niemann, CU Denver Master of Urban and Regional Planning student
On Friday, September 19, the Planners Network – CU Denver Chapter turned a parking spot at 14th and Larimer into a temporary parklet. Graduate students in the University of Colorado Denver’s Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program participated in the International PARK(ing) Day to raise awareness about the vast amount of space dedicated to parking spots in the US and to start a conversation about more productive uses of these spaces.
PARK(ing) Day “is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.”
The Planners Network – CU Denver Chapter parking space was filled with seating, games, books, and an opportunity for Denver residents to participate. Seemingly surprised by the unusual furniture set up in the middle of a parking space, many pedestrians stopped to read an information board describing PARK(ing) Day goals and the state of parking in the US. Passersby were asked to contribute to a board asking what else this 9′ x 18′ space could be besides empty asphalt dedicated only to cars. Ideas ranged from bike parking to affordable housing and a water slide. Throughout the day, students from the College of Architecture and Planning utilized the space for studying and socializing with peers.
Books were also collected for a “park library” and visitors were invited to take a book home with them. Remaining donated books were given to The Arc.
Students hope to continue PARK(ing) Day efforts throughout the year and more Denver organizations will host parks for PARK(ing) Day next year, which is always held the third Friday in September. For more information on international PARK(ing) Day, see http://parkingday.org/.