By Remya Ramesh
What began in 2005 from the art and design studio Rebar converting a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco has evolved into a global movement—PARK(ing) Day—that effectively re-valued the metered parking space as an important part of the commons.
On September 15, 2017, the AIASF Mentorship Committee continued its five plus years’ participation in support of the project’s mission to call attention to the need for more urban open space, improve the quality of urban human habitat, and taking architecture to the street to engage face-to-face with the public on issues in the public realm.
Photo: The AIASF Mentorship Committee's 2017 (PARK)ing Day installation at 130 Sutter St.
After building out their own installation in front of the AIA San Francisco office at the foot of Hallidie Building, the Mentorship Committee organized a touring critique of creations by (PARK)ing Day enthusiasts around the city to identify the best installations this year. Of six submittals, INTERSTICE Architects’ Mirror Mylar Forest-Field: Pedestrian Safety Along the Polk Corridor was recognized as the best installation on design, concept and overall experience, with WRT’s Howard Street Collaborative as runner-up.
INTERSTICE Architects’ interactive installation on Polk Street at Hemlock Alley invited visitors to the wind-activated Mirrored Mylar Forest-Field to explore questions of pedestrian safety. Recording individual experiences as a pedestrian, cyclist or driver, the public was asked to register their information directly onto the installation surface. An enlarged map of the Polk Street Corridor built from data collected from the California Highway Patrol & highlighting pedestrian-related traffic incidents created the “ground” for discussion.
The installation was inspired by the recent Polk Streetscape Project improvements by a collaboration of the City of San Francisco agencies and INTERSTICE’s involvement in an initiative to enrich The Lower Polk Alleyways District. In the new Lower Polk Alleyways Vision Plan (LPADVP), recently adopted by the Lower Polk Neighbors, INTERSTICE Architects guided the community-driven process to form strategies and guidelines to understand the 12 blocks of alleyways located within the boundaries of the Lower Polk Neighborhood, not as singular backstreets or isolated funding opportunities, but to consider them as a whole—as a District.
Photo credit: Mirror Mylar Forest-Field / © INTERSTICE Architects
Howard Street Collaborative began in the summer of 2016 when WRT, O+A and Techshop, three businesses on Howard Street, joined hands to participate in PARK(ing) Day. To celebrate the lively and eclectic history of this street, the community-driven initiative designs and installs temporary, low-cost interventions on the block of Howard Street between 5th and 6th streets in San Francisco to highlight immediate needs for social integration, pedestrian and bike safety, and a positive identity for the block.
WRT invited the community to show their vision of Howard Street by drawing trees, murals, or other ideas right onto their installation, bringing enthusiastic community members, students, tourists and many curious passersby to help them imagine a better streetscape. Even as the event passes, they aim to test incremental solutions and keep experimenting to bring about permanent and positive changes.
Photo credit: Howard Street Collaborative / © WRT