By Mattie Bailey
Nature invaded a small area on Dickson Street last Friday. University of Arkansas students took a metered parking space and temporarily transformed it into a public park for community members to enjoy. They were celebrating national Park(ing) Day, which happens the third Friday in September.
“This is something new for us. We wanted to create a more livable space for people and to bring the community together,” said Hannah Moll, a landscape architecture student in the Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design at the university and president of the student chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Moll and three other students designed and constructed the temporary “parklet,” which was located across the street from Jose’s Restaurant. Matt Talley, an architecture student, Mary Nell Patterson, a landscape architecture student, and Sarah Moll, an interior design student, spent the morning creating the park, starting at 7 a.m.
When the parklet was completed, the students enjoyed the fruits of their labor by relaxing in chairs, sharing lemonade with visitors and talking about what Park(ing) Day was all about. At 7 p.m., the students took it all down and returned the area to a parking space.
The park included a sitting area with chairs the students brought in, as well as a bench made from recycled cinderblocks and a wood board from another project. Neal Pendergraft donated the tires, which the students used to create the foundation of the park. The plants and flowers were on loan from Westwood Gardens in Fayetteville, Hannah Moll said. The parking fee for the spot the students beautified was donated by Darrin Wright with the city Transit and Parking in Fayetteville.
This was the first year the Fay Jones School participated in Park(ing) Day, Hannah Moll said. Phoebe Lickwar, an assistant professor of landscape architecture, said she introduces students to Park(ing) Day – a “ground-breaking concept in taking back the public realm” – in the studios she teaches. However, Hannah Moll and the student ASLA group led the effort of officially participating in the event this year.
The annual event is a global movement with organizations and individuals creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world, according to www.parkingday.org.
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. The mission of Park(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.
John Bela, who is now with Gehl Architects, was part of this project at Rebar. Bela, along with Helle Søholt, are this year’s Garvan Chairs and visiting professors in landscape architecture for the Fay Jones School.