Park(ing) Day 2017 : Flexing our Design Muscles

Most of our day-to-day work involves designing outdoor spaces in the public sphere, where existing conditions, adjacent uses, regulations, practical considerations, and community wants and needs all influence the design. We pride ourselves on our expertise in turning these constraints into opportunities, but it’s a fact of life for us that no site is truly a blank canvas. So when we do have the chance to flex our design muscles in a different way to create something from nothing, it’s a fun challenge that’s hard to resist.

Since Park(ing) Day first began with a single parallel stall in downtown San Francisco in 2005, it has blossomed into an annual one-day worldwide celebration of public space. Park(ing) Day examines how a single parking stall, which would normally be occupied by just a single private vehicle, could be reconceived as a community asset that serves the public and enhances the pedestrian experience. In Sacramento, the ASLA CA Sierra Chapter supports this movement by hosting Sacramento United Park(ing) Day, an event that brings together the local design community to take over all the parking stalls on a single block. It is always inspiring to see the vision that our fellow landscape architects, planners, architects, engineers, and artists share for Sacramento’s public sphere. This year’s event was Saturday, September 16th and was located just outside the front steps to the Capitol building in downtown Sacramento.

Our blank canvas was a parallel parking stall in downtown Sacramento, which the Callander Associates Gold River team temporarily transformed into a mini-park. Building on this year’s theme of “Creative Capitol,” we focused on an aspect of Sacramento that helps to define the character of the city and that we, as landscape architects, profoundly appreciate – its robust, beautiful, and vibrant urban forest. Sacramento’s longtime moniker “City of Trees” (despite recent rebranding as the “Farm-to-Fork Capital”) reflects how important the urban forest is to the city and its residents. And in discussing urban public space and the pedestrian experience, trees are a factor that can’t be overlooked. For our installation, a double-stacked row of trees (donated by Village Nurseries), we created a feeling of enclosure and a shady spot to rest. Meanwhile, bright colors, string art, and the opportunity to “yarn bomb” the installation invited visitors to express their creativity. In the spirit of giving back to the community, we held a raffle so that some lucky visitors could bring home one of the beautiful trees from the installation and nurture their own slice of the City of Trees.

We had a blast at Park(ing) Day 2017! Read on for some favorite moments from the CALA team.

I enjoyed interacting with people of all different ages and talking with them about the importance of trees in the built environment. It was fun to see kids and adults interact with the parklet by hanging up pom-poms they created. -Amanda Holtman, Designer

Park(ing) day for Callander Associates was a team effort from conception to packing up the last tree. Being part of the team, I really enjoyed collaborating on the concept designs, brainstorming how to translate the theme into a functional parklet, gathering the supplies and building the parklet. As  landscape architects and park designers, we wanted to stay true to our passion by creating a place that was creative, active and fun. We were successful in creating an environment that reflected that. For my two boys, Park(ing) Day was a fun experience where they got to explore many types of recreation. To them, the whole place was a playground!  -Melissa Ruth, Associate

My favorite interaction I had at Parking Day came about after an unsuccessful attempt at encouraging a woman to put her name into our raffle for a chance to take home a tree. It turned out that she was in Sacramento for the weekend visiting her daughter, and the home that she was returning to was on the same street as my parents’ house in Western Massachusetts!  Cameron Roach, Designer

It was fascinating to see the willingness of different people to play with the colorful yarn and to make changes to the space. Some people dove in and zig-zagged yarn all over the place, some shied away, and some (especially kids) just wanted to make a pom-pom to take home. One young visitor in particular kept coming back to make more pom-poms. She proudly hung the first one in a tree, but the rest were just for her. -Brenna Castro, Job Captain

It was awesome how excited people were to take home one of the trees from the raffle. They were all smiles when they came back to pick up their tree, even when we helped them load the 10’ tall Platanus into their subcompact cars – who can say no to a free tree? – Ben Woodside, Principal

Brenna Castro, Job Captain in our Gold River Office

November 3, 2017 at 4:02 pm