If you noticed something different about your usual parking space last weekend, you weren’t alone.
Last Friday, your favorite parking spot in the city might have been occupied — not by another driver who found it quicker than you did, but by public art spaces created by Richmond-area design, architecture, and creative firms as well as artists.
Park(ing) Day began in San Francisco in 2005 and has evolved into a global event. It is an annual celebration of public space, in which designers and artists turn public parking spaces into temporary public parks, art installations, or other creative artistic spaces.
This year’s event was coordinated by community partner organization Venture Richmond. 20 pop-up parks were created downtown, around Carytown, the Fan, and Scott’s Addition, and on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. The organization jumped at the opportunity to head up this year’s celebration.
“For us, the opportunity to activate our downtown streets with mini-parks for the day while simultaneously raising awareness of, and promoting, the City of Richmond’s parklet program was something we just couldn’t pass up,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Venture Richmond’s director of riverfront and downtown placemaking.
For Venture Richmond, hosting this year’s event also created an opportunity to keep some of the contest-winning parklets around for the long haul.
“We look forward to working with the City of Richmond and some of our participants in the near future to install permanent parklets, adding more public space to our increasingly vibrant downtown streets,” Hepp-Buchanan said.
Park spaces opened to the public Friday morning at 9 a.m. and remained open until 4 p.m. that afternoon. The winners of the contest were announced at a happy hour at Bar Solita downtown’s arts district that evening. This year’s winners were:
- Most Transformative: Carl Patow & Leila Ehtseham with Mactavish Beach
- Best Vibe: ART 180
- Most Artistic: HKS Architects & DPR
- Grand Prize: Walter Parks Architects & KBS, Inc.
ART 180 has been in Richmond for 21 years, working with underprivileged and underrepresented youth, giving them a safe space to express their creativity. They offer a number of after-school programs for kids in the city’s public schools and community centers, as well as classes for incarcerated teens.
ART 180’s Community Program Manager, Dr. Vaughn Garland, said his organization was approached about creating a park in front of their building in Jackson Ward.
“We love the idea,” Garland said. “So we built a creative space. This is a space for creatives to come in and express their own interest.”
Top Photo by Owen FitzGerald