Driving or walking in downtown Lincoln, one sees 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. However, pedestrians and drivers may have to do a double take on September 16th, as an estimated 45 UNL College of Architecture students put up an exhibition they call PARK(ing) DAY 2016, where they transform select parking stalls on P Street in Lincoln (between 11th & 14th Street) into temporary, urban, public parks and spaces.
Lincoln's PARK(ing) Day is part of a larger global movement 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 architectural installation 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, BVH Architects, The Clark Enersen Partners, Clark Architects Collaborative 3 and Schemmer.
These exhibits are not built in just one hour, they originate as a four-week, team project for second-year architecture students with guidance by faculty including Cristina Murphy, Peter Olshavsky and Guillermo Yángüez. 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 5:00 pm. Local AIA members and sponsors 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 five 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. In past years, it was held on campus but this is the second 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 nine student-designed installation and one AIA Lincoln installation from 9 am to 5 pm, downtown on P Street between 11th & 14th Street, a three-block span.