Topic: College of Architecture and Planning
September 17, 2014
When 130 Ball State landscape architecture students take to a Muncie street on Sept. 19, the demonstration they’ll stage is less about protest and more about perspective.
As the students prepare to take part in the ninth annual international Park(ing) Day, they’ll join thousands of people who take ordinary urban parking spaces and turn them into temporary art and design installations, with the focus on encouraging folks to consider the world in new ways.
“Look at an aerial image of downtown Muncie,” said Nicole Rebeck, a graduate student from St. Louis. “The surface parking is taking up a lot of real estate. My hope is that the community can recognize the positive benefits that are connected to urban public spaces such as quality of life and healthier lifestyles.”
The students will convert 10 spaces on Walnut Street in downtown Muncie into these short-lived parks, said Simon Bussiere, assistant professor of landscape architecture. Designs will center on the themes of eat, talk, play, learn and make, he said, transforming spaces normally reserved for cars into places for people.
“In ‘play’ spaces for example, students are planning activities to engage and excite passers-by. ‘Learn’ spaces will include educational components,” Bussiere said. “The reprogramming of these urban spaces will allow students and others to take away new perspectives on community, collaboration and a greater appreciation for pedestrian environments.”
The project, funded in-part by alumni donors, has practical advantages in addition to the philosophical considerations said Maggie Weighner, a second-year student from Grand Rapids, Mich. “I love that this project is design-build, because it is the best way to test if your design actually makes sense in the real world, and to see if it feels and looks like you intended it to in models and drawings,” she said. “I did a design-build installation last year, and it was my favorite project because I was able to see what worked and what needed improvement in my design; it also gave me a sense of accomplishment for turning concept into reality.”
As many as five of the spaces will be re-created for the Living Lightly Fair at Minnetrista on Sept. 20, and a collection of all of the projects will be reassembled for the First Thursday Arts Walk in November.
Park(ing) Day originated in 2005, when a group of designers and artists in a California firm converted a single metered parking stall in San Francisco to a so-called public, albeit temporary, park. The goal was to draw attention to a need for more shared, open space in urban areas. According to organizers, the event has grown to an estimated 1,000 temporary parks in several countries, including Brazil, France, Poland and Singapore.
What: Park(ing) Day
When: Friday, Sept. 19
Where: Walnut Street, downtown Muncie