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Transportation

PARK(ing) Day Brings Out Houstonians’ Creativity as They Imagine New Uses for Urban Spaces

The Houston event was part of a worldwide effort that illustrates the amount of space used for vehicles.

  • A pop-up dog park was a popular spot on PARK(ing) Day (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    A pop-up dog park was a popular spot on PARK(ing) Day (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • One of the parking spaces was transformed into a tiny dog park   (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    One of the parking spaces was transformed into a tiny dog park (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • park-day-3
    park-day-3
  • This year's PARK(ing) Day was held on McKinney Street in downtown Houston.  (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter  )
    This year's PARK(ing) Day was held on McKinney Street in downtown Houston. (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • An overhead view of PARK(ing) Day in downtown Houston (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    An overhead view of PARK(ing) Day in downtown Houston (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Colorful flags festoon a parklet in downtown Houston  (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Colorful flags festoon a parklet in downtown Houston (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Rice Design Alliance was one of the groups taking part in PARK(ing) Day (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Rice Design Alliance was one of the groups taking part in PARK(ing) Day (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Rice Design Alliance created a space for creativity and conversation  (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Rice Design Alliance created a space for creativity and conversation (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Art in the parklet  (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Art in the parklet (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Parklet games  (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Parklet games (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Parklet games   (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Parklet games (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • A parklet educates visitors about water use (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    A parklet educates visitors about water use (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Spaces for games at PARK(ing) Day (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Spaces for games at PARK(ing) Day (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • This year's PARK(ing) Day was held on McKinney Street downtown  (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    This year's PARK(ing) Day was held on McKinney Street downtown (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
  • Parklets featured green space and plants  (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )
    Parklets featured green space and plants (Photo Credit: Gail Delaughter )

On a typical lunch hour in downtown Houston you'll see a lot of cars circling the block near McKinney and Caroline looking for a coveted on-street parking spot.

But on PARK(ing) Day, local architectural and landscape firms transformed those places into tiny "parklets" with seating and green space. Passers-by could use the spaces to play games, draw pictures, read and engage in conversation.

We spoke with Lisa Girard, of TBG Partners, an urban planning and landscape architecture firm. She's also a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the group that coordinated Houston's PARK(ing) Day.

Girard said the event calls attention to how much urban space is used for cars and how that space could be utilized for other purposes.

"We're saying we're the dwellers of the city," said Girard. "We want to be outside, we want to engage with each other, we want to have a community. One way of doing that is simply by taking over some parking spots and saying, we don't need that much space, but look what we can do."

One of the parklets that got a lot of attention this year was a pop-up, fenced-in dog park called "The Barking Spot."

"The really cool part is people that are walking their dogs are asking if they can put their dogs in there," said Girard.

If you missed this year's downtown parklets you'll have to wait until next year before you can see them again. They were taken down by mid-afternoon, giving those spaces back to the cars.

 

Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

News Anchor

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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