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The COVD-19 pandemic has forced cities everywhere to rethink how people use their streets and public places. Parking spaces have been transformed into pop-up parklets and outdoor dining and shopping areas, and streets that were once dominated by automobiles are being turned over to pedestrians and cyclists. Issues of racial justice and equity in the built environment have come to the fore.

The idea of redefining streetscapes as places for people and not just cars is the driving force behind PARK(ing) Day, an annual national initiative that uses the creative conversion of on-street parking spaces into pop-up parklets as a way to demonstrate alternative ways of thinking about city life.

PARK(ing) Day parklets

ASLA California Sierra Chapter parklet from PARK(ing) Day 2019 (Photo: Joe DiGiorgio)

 

This year’s PARK(ing) Day falls on Friday, September 18, and it presents landscape architects with an opportunity to build on current experience and reimagine city streets now and in the post-COVID world.

ASLA’s PARK(ing) Day Challenge

On-street installations in curbside parking spaces are impractical in most cities this year. But anyone can participate virtually by posting on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram drawings, sketches, or models of reimagined streetscapes or photographs of exemplary streetscapes that have already been transformed. Traditionally built parklets are welcome if they can be created safely and are permitted by local jurisdictions.

Because the design of streetscapes is fundamentally a form of landscape architecture, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is urging its members, chapters, students, and firms to play an active role in PARK(ing) Day 2020, using hashtags #ASLAParkingDay and #ReimagineStreets. By putting their visualization skills to work via social media, landscape architects can help lead a national conversation about how the changes to city streets that have been implemented by necessity can be made a permanent element of urban life through good design and community participation.

Additional information can be found about ASLA’s PARK(ing) Day 2020 activities here.

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