On September 19, members of the Rutgers Student Chapter of the New Jersey American Society of Landscape Architects (NJASLA), working with its parent organization, helped in the design and installation of PARK(ing) Day 2014 in downtown New Brunswick. This annual event, which takes place on the third Friday in September, temporarily transforms metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces, i.e. temporary public places to enjoy a variety of activities.
This year, officials with Middlesex County Planning and the City of New Brunswick, Rutgers students from the Department of Landscape Architecture and the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, along with several citywide civic organizations and businesses worked together to transform four parking spaces between 40-55 Bayard Street into public parklets.
Holly Nelson, instructor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and a practicing landscape architect, guided the students in rendering a park design for the Bayard Street parking spaces. “Events like PARK(ing) Day not only offer our undergraduates a unique opportunity for civic engagement; they also provide a serious design opportunity that reinforces our curriculum focus on urban and public spaces.”
Rutgers students with Walk Bloustein/Bike Bloustein were key partners in planning, programming and publicizing the event. Landscape Architecture undergraduates designed the parklet and constructed colorful planted perimeter walls from re-purposed pallets. Native plants were provided for the day by Pinelands Nursery while Rutgers Floriculture Greenhouse added “eye candy” annuals. In addition, Rare Find Nursery donated shrubs and Livingston Park Nursery delivered the trees used in the landscape.
According to the city, this is “an initiative that for one day transforms metered parking spaces on roads worldwide into public parks. The purpose of this project is to spur discussion about the creation and use of public space in a community, especially in urban centers.”
Carla Haynes, proprietor of the Garden of Healing Yoga and Wellness Center at 49 Bayard Street, choreographed a series of performances in the space in front of her store, including outdoor yoga, African drumming and Capoeira–Brazilian martial art combining elements of dance, acrobatics and music. There was even human-scale chess if folks wanted to have a quick game during their lunch hour.
New Brunswick PARK(ing) Day 2014
PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 in San Francisco as a two-hour event—the length of a parking meter stay, and has evolved into an annual global, open-source event where citizens, activists and artists turn parking spaces into temporary public spaces.
In locations like Philadelphia, PARK(ing) Day enthusiasts can apply to the city for a seasonal parklet—small, mobile platforms that take up two parking spaces. These mobile units are delivered to neighborhood store fronts to stimulate street life. For example a pop-up park in Philadelphia, Spruce Street Harbour Park, provided an urban beach and a floating restaurant to city residents this summer.