As a city grows and becomes more urbanized, the availability of open space becomes increasingly limited which, in turn, increases the importance and value of great public spaces. In busy, growing city centers on-street, parallel parking spaces are typically plentiful, while space for parks and other public gathering areas is reduced. In contrast, an empty parked car generates far less economic and social growth than an inviting space where many people can use throughout the day. The tension between people and automobiles will likely be an ongoing dynamic in most large cities. Small public space interventions can help balance varying needs while promoting civic innovation solutions.
Park(ing) Day began in 2005 in San Francisco. On the third Friday of September 2005, the team from a design firm called Rebar walked up to an empty parking spot, paid the meter, unrolled grass-like carpeting, and set out a bench. As the morning wore on, they invited passersby to enjoy a few minutes in the new mini-park. Within a few hours, the concept behind PARK(ing) Day was born.
Considered a day of action, Park(ing) Day engages city residents and visitors an important conversation about how public space is allocated and challenges us to re-imagine how existing spaces, however small, could be used in new ways.
Urban Impact Lab began participating in Park(ing) Day in Miami in September 2013. The team’s original goal was to increase Park(ing) Day’s local popularity and participation. The team grew Miami’s Park(ing) Day Miami from a small activation of 2 parking spaces in Downtown Miami in 2013 to a fun and imaginative design competition in 2016. The competition spanned the Wynwood, Downtown Miami, and Brickell areas with over 20 participants and sponsors.
Participants in Park(ing) Day range from students and residents, to local business owners, to professional designers and artists. Visitors to Park(ing) Day spots get inspired with creative and inventive uses and activities for small public spaces. Passersby connect with new people, while realizing how underestimated public spaces — in this case, a metered parking spot — can be easily transformed into valuable, enjoyable, lively space for people.
In addition to growing Park(ing) Day, Urban Impact Lab has advocated for the creation of a permanent parklet program at the City of Miami. Parklets build off the idea behind Park(ing) Day by creating more permanent mini public spaces out of on-street, parallel parking spaces in urban areas. Parklets improve the experience on a city street and increase value to surrounding businesses by adding beauty, seating, gathering space, and even shade.
Urban Impact Lab managed all aspects of Park(ing) Day Miami, including site selection, permitting, partner development, participant selection, implementation support, and communications in partnership with the City of Miami and Miami Parking Authority. The project team brought on new partners each year and increased awareness by securing earned media and managing dedicated social media and website platforms.
RESULTS & IMPACT
Growth in participation in Park(ing) Day from 1 business in 2013 to over 50 total businesses and partners by 2016.
Creation of Park(ing) Day Guidelines
Expansion of a Park(ing) Day to the City of Coral Gables.
Increase in demand and support for both Park(ing) Day and permanent parklets in City of Miami.
Creation of a parklet program for City of Miami.
Projects like Park(ing) Day Miami are unique and powerful entry points to building greater civic engagement. The experience of participating in a fun and collaborative day of action, even if you’re transforming just a tiny part of your city, leaves an indelible impression on any community member.
Interested in bringing a parklet to your neighborhood?