San Antonio’s PARK(ing) Day turns spaces into walkable venues for play, arts, advocacy | SA Express-News

San Antonio Express News, full article here


-Caroline Tien


The judge surveyed the contestants and made the call. And the Golden Parking Meter goes to: Able City.Mayor Ron Nirenberg decided the winning participant of the annual PARK(ing) Day street-booth event Friday morning, when 20 “competitors” set up shop along Broadway Street and Main Avenue in spaces where usually motorists pay to leave their cars. The annual event repurposes parking spaces for a day so that pedestrians can peruse miniature places of play and showcases for advocacy and the arts. Local businesses and nonprofits designed and built booths featuring everything from barstools to potted succulents to hanging plants. Community Wellness America offered passersby COVID-19 testing. MP Studio Landscape Architecture had a cooler of Popsicles to attract foot traffic.


“In our work, we try to promote habitat for pollinators,” said Cecilia Garcia-Hours, a principal of MP Studio Landscape Architecture. The firm strives to develop designs for outdoor spaces that entice keystone species such as bumblebees and monarch butterflies. “We integrate it into every project.” Indeed, her booth featured a wall of hexagonal containers resembled a honeycomb. “We need them for protection and we need them for the success of other plants,” she said.


Able City, a collaboration by two architecture firms, took home the gold for its booth envisioning a parking space as a series of bike lanes. “We’re trying to bring more green space and resilience and sustainability concepts into our urban areas,” Nirenberg said while discussing the winner. A particular goal is to “better utilize transportation corridors to promote their benefits.”


Mario Peña, a co-founder of Able City, explained why his booth promoted bicycle lanes. “Whether you can’t drive because you’ve [aged out] or whether you can’t drive yet because you’re too young or whether you can’t afford a car, you should be able to get around your city independently,” he said The primary objective of PARK(ing) Day is to highlight “the importance of urban green space in creative and fun ways,” Caleb Etheredge, a landscape architect at the firm Coral Studio, said Thursday. Etheredge helped plan the event.

“How can we reimagine these urban spaces that are kind of vehicle-dominated for pedestrians or bicyclists?” he asked rhetorically.

PARK(ing) Day, Etheredge said, is “an easy, small way to do a temporary installation that can really highlight some important issues” and that “is simple enough for a lot of people to engage with.”

Begun in San Francisco in 2005, PARK(ing) Day now takes place in more than 150 cities across the United States and in 21 countries on six continents.

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