Published On: Sat, Sep 17th, 2011

Wide-open spaces: Parking spots morph into works of art

The borough was down three parking spaces Friday, but up three parklets. The occasion was PARK(ing) Day, an annual event when

groups around the world convert parking spots into green space. Landscape architecture students at Penn State were among those who took up the challenge this year, planting their projects on Allen Street, West College Avenue and East Beaver Avenue.

Steve Makrinos, a fifth-year landscape architecture student, said it shows that even a small parking space can be turned into a public garden.

At his team’s spot on West College near Burrowes Street, 150 baby spruces lined wooden shelves. The saplings were free for the taking.

“I think we should have no problem giving the trees away,” fifth-year landscape architecture student Shaun Hicks said.

Passers-by could also draw on a wall that was part of the display.

“We wanted something that was going to be interactive,” Makrinos said.

“These trees are going to live on past PARK(ing) Day,” he said.

The “Take a tree. Leave a tree” park was the work of one of the three teams of students in a landscape architecture class, who, with help of first-year students, installed the eco-friendly displays early Friday morning. The gardens were in place most of the day, giving people a chance to stop by, ask questions, or, in the case of the spot on Beaver Avenue, sit down for some coffee.

At the Allen Street spot, a wave of clear plastic bottles suspended upside down above a patch of grass caught the eye of people heading to class and work. Fourth-year landscape architecture students Grace Byrne and Dan Sepsy said their team decided to focus on water bottles and recycling.

“We use so many and they’re becoming part of the landscape,” Byrne said.

Sepsy said the bottles accumulate — the campus recycling center handles 90 cubic yards of plastics every day.

But not all of them get recycled. Byrne said the team was hoping to bring attention to the issue.

“Everyone thinks, ‘It’s just one water bottle,’ ” she said.

PARK(ing) Day started in 2005 in San Francisco when an art and design studio turned a metered parking space into a grassy, green spot. By last year, more than 800 of the parks were installed around the world with a goal of bringing attention to the idea of having more green space and being less reliant on traffic and fuel.

Assistant professor Sean Burkholder said he’s done the project with his students in past years but this is the first time that they worked competitively in teams. The role of landscape architects is to work in public spaces and the park day gives them a chance to work with people in the real world.

“They end up thriving in it,” he said. “They always have so much fun.”

He noted that all three of the parks were completely different.

“I’m really impressed with all the projects,” he said.

The project got approval from the borough parking office ahead of time, with organizers buying all-day meter bags for the sites. Burkholder and Jodi La Coe teach the class in the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture.

 

Source : www.centredaily.com