College of Architecture Students Transform Downtown Lincoln

College of Architecture Students Transform Downtown Lincoln

By Kerry McCulloug...

September 14, 2015

Parking Day

Driving or walking in downtown Lincoln, we see people walking down the sidewalks, shoppers going in and out of retailers and of course cars parked where else but the parking stalls that line the streets. Pedestrians and drivers may have to do a double take on September 21st, however, as an estimated 70 UNL College of Architecture students put up an exhibition they call PARK(ing) DAY 2015, where they transform P Street's ordinary parking stalls into temporary, urban, public parks and spaces. This event was originally scheduled for Sept. 18th but has been moved to Sept. 21st.

Lincoln's Park(ing) Day is part of a larger global event where citizens, designers and activists collaborate to change parking spots into habitable park-like spaces for a day. The event began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking stall into a temporary public park. Locally, this project is directed by UNL's College of Architecture Assistant Professor Peter Olshavsky and sponsored by the American Institute of Architects Nebraska Chapter (AIA) Lincoln.

These exhibits aren't just built in one hour, they originate as a four-week team project for second-year architecture students with guidance by faculty including Emily Andersen, Robert Trempe and Peter Olshavsky. This project provides students with experience in designing, prototyping and eventually building their creations. Each exhibit is pre-built modularly to allow for quick and easy installation the morning of the event. Most students will begin installing their exhibits around 8:30 am and will be finished by 9:00 am for a display that will be up until 4 pm. Local AIA members will be reviewing the students' work and will be around for their exhibition.

The College of Architecture and its collaborative partners joined this national event four years ago. It was an extracurricular event for architecture students that was originally funded by an Eco-Leadership Grant for Canada-US Fulbright Alumni. Fortunately for the College, Olshavsky happened to be a Fulbright alum.

This project is a favorite for many students and has grown in popularity. Usually it is held on campus but this is the first year that it will be displayed in downtown Lincoln.

By having Park(ing) Day downtown, Olshavsky hopes to engage the public in a responsible way while promoting the value of design. Of course for his students this is also a great learning opportunity.

"This is a unique exercise that teaches students how to be responsible for the design process from early iteration to prototype, to final construction," commented Olshavsky. "I'm always fascinated to watch how our students have the ability to evolve from concept to detail level quickly," Olshavsky continued, "and all the while having the tenacity and creativity to find ways to inhabit these parking stalls in truly unique ways."

Interested design enthusiast can view the 12 student-designed exhibits from 9 am to 4 pm, downtown on P Street between 11th street and Centennial Mall, a four-block span.