Better Block OKC is launching yet another urban experiment, this time establishing curbside “parklets” as it joins the national “PARK(ing) Day” effort to create street-side pedestrian public spaces.
Ashley Terry, a coordinator for the event, said seven spots will be transformed for Friday's parklets, which will consist of temporary public parks that will provide visitors with landscaped gaming and seating areas.
“PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform parking spots into temporary public parks, a way to call attention to the need for more urban open space,” Terry said. “Oklahoma City will participate in the movement for the first time, joining 162 cities in 35 different countries.”
The concept was invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, with the goal of generating discussion about the creation and allocation of public space, as well as improving the overall quality of urban human habitat.
The effort to include Oklahoma City in PARK(ing) Day 2013 is led by Better Block OKC, the volunteer organization responsible for bringing the Better Block urban planning effort with previous efforts at NW 7 and Hudson Avenue and the Farmers Market District. During both events, Better Block OKC demonstrated the parklet concept.
Terry said volunteers have spent the past several weeks designing, building and staging the parklets.
The parklets will pop up Friday in seven downtown area districts: Automobile Alley (two locations), Bricktown, the Central Business District, Film Row, H&8th, Plaza District and Uptown 23rd. A map of the parklets, including a bike path to visit all of the parklets, is available on www.betterblockokc.com.
Steve Mason, who owns several properties along Automobile Alley within proximity of the parklets, is applauding the effort to introduce new public spaces downtown.
“It provides a demonstration on how we can make our downtown and urban core more inviting to our community,” Mason said.
Mason said parklets could be a valuable addition in creating public spaces downtown, citing Ludivine in Midtown as a restaurant that is unable to open sidewalk seating.
“Imagine if Ludivine spilled out onto Hudson,” Mason said. “Unfortunately, the sidewalk there is not wide enough to accommodate diners outside at night. We all know that the more activities and amenities you have along the sidewalks, the more it makes those areas more inviting to hang out.”