UNL Students Transform Downtown Lincoln for PARK(ing) Day 2017

UNL Students Transform Downtown Lincoln for PARK(ing) Day 2017

By Kerry McCulloug...

September 12, 2017

Park(ing) Day @ UNL College of Architecture

A common sight in downtown Lincoln are people walking down the sidewalks, shoppers going in and out of retailers, individuals rushing to and from work and of course parked cars lining the streets in parking stalls. However, an extraordinary event will happen on September 15th where miniature parks will be erected where parking stalls once stood transforming the downtown area into an amazing exhibit of design work called PARK(ing) DAY 2017. The estimated 45 UNL College of Architecture students will create and design temporary, urban, public parks and space design exhibits in select parking stalls on P Street in Lincoln (between 11th & 14th Street).

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.

These exhibits aren't built in just one hour, they originate as a four-week, team project for second-year architecture students with guidance by faculty. 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 pm. Local AIA members will be reviewing the students' work and will be around for their exhibition. The public is also invited to engage with the students, review their designs and ask questions.

The College of Architecture and its collaborative partner joined this national event six 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 third 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 installations and one installation by AIA Lincoln from 9 am to 5pm, downtown on P Street between 11th & 14th Street, a three-block span.