The Parking Project
December 17, 2005 8:45 AM   Subscribe

The idea behind the Parking art project is pretty simple: once you throw some coins in the meter, you can do pretty much anything with a parking space, right? Rebar decided to try converting some vehicle space into a community space, by laying sod, adding benches and a tree, then letting people enjoy the space for a few hours. [via treehugger]
posted by mathowie (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
That is the sort of way awesome hippie "thinking outside the box" kinda thing I can get behind.

Is there any information on what sort of response they got from this?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:53 AM on December 17, 2005

posted by Jairus at 8:53 AM on December 17, 2005

I love it.

I know what I'm doing next summer.
posted by lemonfridge at 8:57 AM on December 17, 2005

Since most municipalities forbid "meter feeding," they might have to circle the block every hour or two.

For some reason this reminds me of the theory that its legal to smoke pot sitting on top of a mailbox, because that's federal ground, and federal law does not forbid consumption.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:59 AM on December 17, 2005

Wow, that's awesome.
posted by mkultra at 9:29 AM on December 17, 2005

posted by gurple at 9:38 AM on December 17, 2005

That's a fantastic idea! Great photos, especially the ones with the PARK(ing) space in the lower field. (PARK)ing in context.
posted by prostyle at 9:39 AM on December 17, 2005

In 2002, Kelly Jazvac, a visual arts grad student of the University of Victoria did something similar: Paying for a parking space and turning it into a putting green. I think the piece was aptly named "Parking Space Putting Green". Unfortunately there's no pictures of it online that i can find - But she's done similar other publically manipulable works, making art of unexpected places/things. She's done other interesting works also; Canadian's should check her stuff out if she exhibits in your town.
posted by wumpus at 9:46 AM on December 17, 2005

When municipalities begin to use the new type meters this no longer will happen (sad): the new meters sense when a car in at the spot and when it leaves that spot so that you can put in money for one hour but if you leave 30 minutes later, the meter automatically expires and goes back to zero time. Now if you do not park and thus add weight, I am not sure how the meter will respond, but perhaps those with some better tech knowledge can respond to this important issue.
posted by Postroad at 9:54 AM on December 17, 2005

brilliant. "art for arts' sake" and all that. btw, i pay $300 a year for my commuter parking, which entitles me to a parking space 365-days of the year. I'd love to see what they'd do with that artistic freedom...
posted by naxosaxur at 9:58 AM on December 17, 2005

It is refreshing to see that there are people with creativity, balls and a sense of humor out there. Reminds me of the latest by Improv Everywhere.
posted by jaronson at 10:31 AM on December 17, 2005

See also: an office in the City
posted by cali at 10:37 AM on December 17, 2005

Postroad: Most vehicle sensors (ie for traffic lights) work by sensing a change in inductance across a wire loop beneath the road. The metal park bench would keep those types of meter running.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:45 AM on December 17, 2005

/crabby mode on

yeah, yeah, cute little free spirit thingie... done once it's great - if it becomes popular it is gonna p.o. a bunch of people....

When we need to find a spot to park in Ann Arbor this summer and find sod instead, we will perform what is commonly known around here as a "lawn job" and rest my catalytic converter right on his park bench! It is exactly for this reason that Subaru made my car all wheel drive!

/crabby mode off
posted by HuronBob at 11:00 AM on December 17, 2005

does someone need a hug, and then some park time huronbob? : D
posted by nola at 11:08 AM on December 17, 2005

This made me so happy! Really, what a brilliant idea. Good on them for bringing a little patch of beauty into being for a few hours.

(So...when exactly did Speed Levitch start looking like Matisyahu?)
posted by melissa may at 11:15 AM on December 17, 2005

Poor dead sod.
posted by artifarce at 11:33 AM on December 17, 2005

See also: traffic-calming activist sets up living room in street (apparently this children's author/illustrator).
posted by dhartung at 12:25 PM on December 17, 2005

Most vehicle sensors (ie for traffic lights) work by sensing a change in inductance across a wire loop beneath the road. The metal park bench would keep those types of meter running.

I remember when some place in Westchester County, NY (maybe New Rochelle?) was trying out smart meters a few years ago, the technology used infrared sensors, which means the bench might not work unless it was opaque/warm enough. This story indicates that at least some meters use/used infrared.

But anyway, it's all moot since regardless of the letter of the law most parking authorities probably wouldn't appreciate people getting cute like this.
posted by Opposite George at 4:02 PM on December 17, 2005

Sorry for the PartyPooperFilter...
posted by Opposite George at 4:05 PM on December 17, 2005

Folks, I am one of the creators of PARK(ing). I found your discussion during a very narcissistic search of the Internet. I'd like to respond to a few of your comments:

for Grapefruitmoon - a central part of the piece was to explore the response from institutional authority. So far, the only response has been a rather encouraging email from an official in the SF Mayor's office.

for StickyCarpet - we fed the meter 5 times the legal limit (30 mins) but no ticket! In fact, we aren't even sure what sort of ticket we would have received, since no vehicle occupied the spot. (And, I am pretty sure it is illegal under federal law to consume marajuana on federal property, whether on a mailbox or on the floor of the US Senate.)

for Artifarce - the sod was installed in a backyard a few hours after PARK(ing) closed. It is growing along nicely.

and thank you to Cali and wumpus for links to other similar projects - they are quite exciting!

Please feel free to email us with any questions about the piece (or other rebar projects) at: holler [at] rebargroup [dot] org.
posted by rebar at 5:16 PM on December 17, 2005

I, for one, welcome our new PARK(ing) overlords. (Well, someone was going to say it...)
posted by dejah420 at 7:54 PM on December 17, 2005

Oh man, I totally love this.

That 70% of public outdoor space is devoted to automobiles is a horrifying statistic. The sacrilege of using a parking space for something other than *gasp* parking a car is refreshing indeed. It would be great to see the idea spread, as did Critical Mass.

It's always a bit unnerving to witness the incredible sense of self-entitlement of the motoring public, who respond with alarm or hostility at what they perceive as any encroachment on "their" space.

The picture of the guy who removed his boots and took a load off was awesome. Had I passed by, you can bet that I'd have fed the meter.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:18 PM on December 17, 2005

posted by edgeways at 11:38 PM on December 17, 2005

heh, plus this thread seems to have netted Matt another $5.

Feed the meter
posted by edgeways at 11:39 PM on December 17, 2005

Yes, I see that rebar has joined and commented, and is busy remixing the landscape in other creative ways as well.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:10 AM on December 18, 2005

Huh, I'm sorry I missed this. I work about a half block from here. While they claim that this area is "underserved by public open spaces", it actually has two lovely private "open spaces". In fact, one of them is just up these stairs. It's a nice - and quite large - area with grass and benches. Another indoor space is half a block up the street. So, cool and all, but if the point is to target "underserved" areas, they kinda blew it.
posted by foozleface at 2:19 AM on December 18, 2005

It would be great to see the idea spread, as did Critical Mass.

Yeah, then we'd have a bunch of motorists pissed off at artists and they'd leave my sorry bike-riding ass alone.

Some of my best friends are artists. Just saying...
posted by Opposite George at 2:22 AM on December 18, 2005

It would be lovely to do something like this at an "off-time", say in the financial district on a weekend when there was less traffic. The trick would be to balance having enough traffic to make it interesting against pissing people off by taking a resource they consider precious.

I can imagine something like an entire block being turned into a beach, complete with umbrellas, wading pools, etc.
posted by Patti at 3:05 AM on December 18, 2005

For foozleface - the area where PARK(ing) occurred is "underserved by public open space" according to official San Francisco Department of City Planning maps.

I am not smart enough to figure out how to make links in this comment, so if you go here:

and click: "Map of downtown open space"

you will see the official SF Dept. of City Planning map.

And, can I just mention that public open space and "private open space" that you mention, are, in fact, rather opposite of each other.
posted by rebar at 10:10 AM on December 18, 2005

Cool idea.

I'm suprised that this hasn't been mentioned before, but: shades of I Heart Huckabees.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:53 PM on December 18, 2005

I'm slightly less surprised at my poor spelling skills.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:54 PM on December 18, 2005

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