Mini parking-space sized parks—otherwise known as "parklets"—are popping up in major cities across the United States. Today, a new yellow parklet opens in Washington, D.C., and will remain in place for five months.
The local office of architecture firm Gensler was approached by the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District (BID), to create what the designers call a "seasonal parklet"—meaning it will be open to the public until October. Gensler held a competition within the firm to decide upon a design. The winner of the competition was "parKIT,” created by technical designers Claire Kang, Assoc. AIA, and Laura Carey, Assoc. AIA. "parKIT," which officially opens today, spans two parking spaces in front of Gensler's office on 2020 K Street NW, a busy area for both traffic and pedestrians.
D.C. residents have participated in the internationally recognized Park(ing) Day event, an annual event when citizens transform city parking spaces into small parks. Though it is not permanent, this parklet will not be a one-day event either.
The 320-square-foot parKIT's overall design was inspired by the Golden Triangle BID area. The large triangular modules in various heights are painted in three different shades of bright yellow. Kang says, "We wanted to bring a very playful and vibrant color to the site, so it catches eyes and people pause, think about what it is, and interact with the parklet."
Kang and Carey were tasked with designing the parklet within a budget of $15,000, using materials that could withstand various weather conditions. Selecting materials based on durability and cost effectiveness, the designers chose to construct the triangular modules with marine plywood, and painted them with exterior-grade semi-gloss acrylic paint.
For both the Golden Triangle BID and Gensler, the aim of the project was to create a design that was interactive. Golden Triangle BID executive director Leona Agouridis says that "the foundation of the design was getting people to interact and engage." These triangular modules are designed to be moved around and arranged into different formations. Ten of the modules are planters and are designed to act as a barrier from street traffic, according to Kang.
"It is like a toolkit," she says about the origins of the name "parKIT." "You can place this parklet anywhere in D.C. and it is up to the users to configure it towards their needs."
Depending on the success of "parKIT," Agouridis says the Golden Triangle BID would be interested in commissioning a seasonal parklet again. They also plan to hold to-be-determined weekly events following the parklet's official opening today.