Ryan Holeywell | @RyanHoleywell| September 18, 2015
What happens if you rethink what, exactly, a parking space could be? Dozens of architects, planners and urban enthusiasts answered that question Friday in downtown Houston.
Residents transformed parking spaces at the corner of Captiol and Travis Streets into miniature parks in an effort to show the value of rethinking public space. The event was part of Park(ing) Day, a nationwide event in which similar activities took place in cities across the country.
The event was organized by Allyn West of the Rice Design Alliance. “I just sent a big email to everyone I knew, and it kind of came together,” West said. Then he prepaid the city for the use of 16 downtown on-street parking spaces for the day.
Below are some of the ways Houstonians reimagined their parking spaces.
Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research created a tiny version of a miniature golf course within the confines of a parking space.
On a bed of artificial grass, Brad Sweitzer enjoyed a bocce game. The parklet was created by landscape architecture and planning firm RVi.
Be the park
The American Society of Landscape Architects created a parklet featuring images of award-winning designs from its member firms. “It’s about promoting landscape architecture as a profession,” said Gayla Plichta, an ASLA member who helped build the parklet.
Employees of SWA, a landscape architecture and design firm, created a bee-themed space, complete with giant honeycomb-shaped furniture.
A group of friends who regularly attend Rice Design Alliance events created a tiny house made from leftover wood they had from a previous project. Inside, they handed out information about the city’s parking ordinance and the minimum number of spaces required for certain types of venues. The idea was to call attention to the priority the city has placed on parking.
Members of the Rice Design Alliance created a space designed to encourage Houstonians to think about ways the city could be different.
A parking spot draped in tall, white fabric forces pedestrians to look upwards as they enter the space. “You’ve got a lot of built structures downtown,” said Kypher Lamar of the firm Clark Condon, which created the space. “You don’t always see the sky. We wanted to force you to see it.”
Landscape architecture firm TBG created this space designed to resemble its design for the the Big Brothers Big Sisters plaza. It features miniature pathways. “When two paths cross, that’s when a mentorship happens,” said Sarah Zelenak of TBG.
A group including Prairie View A&M students along with members of the the community development corporation Living Paradigm and Architecture for Humanity created this piece featuring a chess set.
Texas Tech University architecture and urban design students build a parklet featuring water balloons hanging from nylon stockings over water. “The idea is it’s a experience you can interact with,” said Joaquin Montes.