September 18, 2020 Students Design “Parklets” for Knoxville’s Virtual PARK(ing) Day

Students in our School of Architecture and School of Landscape Architecture are participating in 2020 PARK(ing) Day in the city of Knoxville. Representing the American Institute of Architecture Students and the American Society of Landscape Architects UT chapter, the students designed publicly engaging “parklets” intended for parking spaces along Gay Street in downtown Knoxville.

Take a virtual tour of the students’ creative designs.

“PARK(ing) Day gives us a chance as new designers to use some of our learned skills in a directly applicable way,” said Erika Herbel, second-year student in Landscape Architecture. “It gives us some exposure with the public and community, as well.”

PARK(ing) Day is an annual international event that connects people in urban settings with public spaces in unexpected ways. Across the globe each year, designers and others temporarily transform ordinary parking spaces into miniature parks or “parklets” to encourage cities to improve the quality of life in urban areas. Normally, the parklets are installed for the day for citizens to enjoy. This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, PARK(ing) Day in Knoxville is a virtual experience.

The change to a virtual platform, however, did not hinder the creativity of the students.

Rendering bamboo structure PARK(ing) Day 2020

The ASLA design examines the intersections of landscape, art, environmentalism and urbanism. Using yellow-painted bamboo, a readily available invasive species, the group created a jumbled form that references traditional scaffolding techniques as well as the frenzied construction of urban space. The walls separate rooms into sections for one, two and four people, while balancing the need for openness with the want for privacy in an urban setting. Inside, components of traditional Zen gardening combine with sensory elements to create a peaceful urban retreat.

Members of the ASLA team are Zachary Cary, Sam Daniel, Erika Herbel, Nora Jacobs, Kelsey Jones, Monica Lee and Seth Zanoni. The ASLA students’ design, Sensory 2020,  was awarded “Best Example of Gorilla Urbanism” by judges for its “simple and elegant concept.” The judges said they could “see this being implemented with ease on Gay Street as a true example of gorilla urbanism.”

Representative of our ability to successfully conduct design using online platforms and technology, the ASLA students, some of whom are not on campus, collaborated using Zoom and sketched together using Mural. They completed the drawings and modeling individually while continuing to collaborate virtually.

A different, though just as creative, approach was taken by the four-person team representing AIAS, who chose to design a fun, interactive experience that can be enjoyed even virtually. The AIAS students’ design, Phoenix-Land,  was awarded “Most Interactive” by judges because they “loved the playfulness of this space.”

Rendering of a gameboard for AIAS PARK(ing) Day 2020

“Our group is making a board game that will be accessible online and also as a printable version that people can play at home,” said Maggie Redding, fifth-year Architecture student. “We hope this is a fun activity that can remind people how great Knoxville is.”

The Candyland-inspired gameboard, based on Knoxville and surrounding areas, is designed to span two parking spots at full scale and has a storyline that takes players to different locations in and around the city.

“I participated in PARK(ing) Day last year and enjoyed getting to set up our installation and interact with people coming to our space,” said Kari Essary, fifth-year Architecture student and a 5+1 B.Arch/MLA student. “Now that PARK(ing) Day is online, I know we won’t have a tangible project to show, but I still think this is a good way to be involved in the community.”

AIAS team members include Aubrey Bader, Kari Essary, Katherine Hill and Maggie Redding.

In addition to our students’ participation, professional firms, BarberMcMurry Architects, McCarty Holsaple McCarty Architects and Interior Designers and others, also are participating in 2020 PARK(ing) Day.