Saturday, June 24, 2017

Eugene Parklet Competition Winners

The four downtown Eugene parking spots to be transformed into "parklets" this summer.

AIA-Southwestern Oregon 2017 president Katie Hall, AIA and organizing committee chairperson Carolina Trabuco, Assoc. AIA announced the winners of the inaugural Eugene Parklet competition at the June AIA-SWO chapter meeting. Though the competition itself is only the first phase of the Parklet 2017 initiative, it’s clear from its auspicious results the project will be nothing less than a great success.

As I mentioned previously, the Parklet Competition is a byproduct of a partnership between the City of Eugene Parking Department (EPark) and AIA-Southwestern Oregon, with the support of downtown merchants, Toolbox Project, CSI Willamette Valley Chapter, and ASLA Oregon. The organizers goals for the project include reimagining the potential of our downtown streets, encouraging non-motorized transportation, enhancing pedestrian safety and activities, and fostering community interaction.

The competition is more than just a visioning exercise. The City of Eugene is providing up to $2,000 to each of the winning designs for materials and related construction costs to radically transform four downtown parking spaces. Three of the parking spaces are on Broadway: one each in front of Townshend’s, Starbucks, and the Bijou theatre; and one parking space on Olive Street in front of the University of Oregon’s new innovation hub RAIN. Once built, the parklets will remain in place for 1-2 months before disassembly. The current schedule anticipates installation occurring during the latter half of July, in time for the July 30 Downtown Sunday Streets event. The parklets will additionally be featured destinations for the August 5 First Friday Art Walk.

The members of the competition jury were Will Dowdy (City of Eugene), Jen Bell (Bell + Funk), David Dougherty (Dougherty Landscape Architects), Eric Gunderson, and Brian Cavenaugh (Architecture Building Culture). The jury evaluated a total of 13 submissions, ultimately selecting four outstanding schemes:

SIT (im.a.bench)

SIT (im.a.bench)
PIVOT Architecture (Kelley Howell, Kari Turner, Tom Moss, Clayton Arrowood, Shirin Majlesien, Craig Runyon, Angela Wilson)
Recommended site:  A

Design Narrative:
Just like the idea of a parklet occupying a parking spot, the IM.A.BENCH design is as whimsical as it is simple. Its vibrant colors and playful design will encourage people to pause for a moment, interact with one another, and enjoy a different experience downtown. Keeping patrons engaged and active downtown will enhance the livability and encourage people to visit more regularly. Safety is a paramount factor in the design and people of all abilities will be able to use the structure by either using the letters as a seat or pulling up alongside it. The words “Open to the Public” are displayed across the vertical wall to boldly invite everyone to utilize the public realm in which the installation occupies. The form of the structure allows for visitors to spend time enjoying a beverage from a local business, reading a paper, sharing conversation, or simply enjoying the opportunity to relax and enjoy downtown Eugene! It is seen as a natural extension of the public sidewalk and encourages a vibrant node of activity alongside local businesses.

The structure will consist of smooth plywood with a colorful veneer coating that encourages patrons both through its design and message: “Sit.” The vertical letters will be constructed of pre-painted sheet metal resting on a plywood base that is flush with the curb and treated with slip-resistant paint. The supporting understructure would consist of reclaimed wood pallets. The plywood would be locally sourced with no added formaldehyde. The design is digitally modeled to optimize the fabrication of the materials and reduce waste. Construction scraps will be recycled.

During construction and decommissioning of IM.A.BENCH, the surrounding areas will feel very little impact. The project will be constructed in modules off site and reassembled during off-peak times to minimize disruption to the important thoroughfare. Once the parklet is slated to be removed, it will be very quickly deconstructed. The project can be transported and reinstalled virtually anywhere. The construction is easy to assemble with minimal tools and utilizes straightforward details.

With slip-resistant lettering that continues onto the sidewalk as an option, the parklet will be attention grabbing and engaging. Outdoor seating for the businesses that occupy the adjacent areas will reap the most reward by having access to valuable outdoor space during the summer months. The parklet can also serve as a showcase during Downtown Eugene events such as First Friday or EUGfun!

Jury Comments:
  • It’s rare to see bold graphics in Eugene. We tend to be more about earthy colors and organic textures. It was nice to see something bold and colorful that will really stand out on the street.
  • A bold and singular place that will surprise and enliven downtown.
  • Simple and bold.  Eye catching and whimsical.
  • Simple and vibrant with bold imagery.  This parklet is sure to draw a crowd of sitters.
Vivid Summer
Vivid Summer
Lindsey Deaton and Christopher Becker
Recommended site: B

Design Narrative:
Eugene’s vibrant summer spaces support spontaneous sidewalk chats, people watching, and sunbathing. The VIVID SUMMER parklet is a community node day and night. Artistically, the parklet is a motif for the power generated when unique individuals form community, as distinct wood panels construct strong geometric shapes.

Bright canvas shading devices announce the presence of a new street feature and draw pedestrians to neighboring pop-up retail pods. The built-in seating supports a variety of activities as well as spaces for individuals, couples, and small groups. Wide ledges accommodate drinks and computers. A standing-height counter transitions pedestrians into the parklet.

As the sun sets, the VIVID SUMMER parklet begins to glow; daylight sensors trigger an internal network of embedded LEDs to bath the benches in soft tones. These lights cast a beautiful array of summer colors on the benches and increase the safety of the space by illuminating a potentially dark corner of the street. The lights are powered by a small, secure PV panel that can be attached directly to the parklet or a neighboring roof.

Jury Comments:
  • This was the only entry that gave much consideration to night time. The people downtown during the day and the ones here at night are generally not the same people. So it allows the people here for the nightlife to enjoy the parklets.
  • Vibrant and lively, The lighting will be a great place for evening selfies.
  • The sharp geometry and soft lighting crates an urban ensemble that will complement the existing Broadway streetscape.

Cameron McCarthy (Larry Gilbert, Justin Lanphear, Zach Rix, Nick Mercado, Vivian Schoung, Ali McQueen)
Recommended site: C

Design Narrative:
The great irony of public spaces is that they serve as locations to gather, experience urban environments, and deepen our understanding of place. Yet, often we lose this notion of experience and use public space as a means of getting from one point to another. We miss the opportunity to fully understand our urban environments.

The goal of pinYOUgene is to create a parklet that strengthens the social fabric of downtown by providing the opportunity to creatively engage with our community, sit and relax, bolster safe and interactive street-level activity, explore downtown, and share our stories.

This parklet is designed for one of the three Broadway locations. Sidewalk users are drawn into the parklet by an interactive downtown map identifying local examples of history, art, and landscapes that visitors are encouraged to explore; built-in seating surrounded by semi-transparent slat screens, both built from locally salvaged trees; vegetated planters; and a 3-D optical manipulation on the street side.

The floor of the parklet is painted with lines and words that lead to the metal chalkboard-coated map of downtown Eugene at the center of the space. This map depicts Google Map-inspired magnetic pins that correspond to examples of local history, art, and meaningful landscapes within downtown. The map also invites visitors to plot their own course using the magnetic pins to mark pivotal or meaningful locations in their lives. In addition, the interior walls of the parklet are coated with chalkboard paint (chalk will continue to be provided throughout the display of the parklet), and visitors can write or draw their experiences discovering Eugene.

Jury Comments:
  • This one tells a bigger story about downtown and encourages people to check out downtown landmarks.
  • Participatory and thoughtful.  Invites us to think about downtown places. 
  • Will bring an interactive experience to downtown that will provide entertainment for all ages, especially the all-to-frequently overlooked children.
  • The diverse yet unified materials are used in a compelling way to create space while interpreting the urban context. 
Framing Parklet

Framing Parklet
Propel Studio (Sam Sudy and Lucas Gray)
Recommended site: D

Design Narrative:
Nestled in front of Townshends: Eugene’s Teahouse, this parklet would serve as an extension of the sidewalk, for passerby and tea drinkers to linger and converse. The concept for this parklet arose from the idea of frames: framing the city, framing nature, framing the pedestrian. Stacked together in a row, frames provide a series of filters, creating visual appeal as one looks down the row. Looking perpendicularly to the frames, small pockets of semi-private spaces become apparent, sandwiched between each frame. Made of everyday materials—rebar and wood—this parklet will be easy to construct. The four frames and the three platforms sandwiched between are independent units, allowing the entire parklet to be broken down and transported with ease.
From their base, the frames offer rigidity and a solid foundation of 2x2 purple-stained wood, both to provide seating and to enclose planter boxes. Plants such as lavender were selected, not only because they coordinate with the colors of the frames, but because of their durability within the local climate of Eugene, minimizing ongoing care and watering requirements.
Above the base, spray-painted rebar reveals a more delicate structure of plantings above, allowing for a visual connection between the sidewalk and the street while still providing a buffer for safety and ambience. At night, the glow in the dark spray paint highlights the grid of the rebar and continues its visual appeal through dusk and into the night.
Jury Comments:
  • This one is uniquely shaped, and the frames allow for visual connection between the sidewalk and the street. It also allows space for someone to sit alone (not on a shared bench), which for people who work downtown and might be on a break alone is appealing.
  • A spatial experience that allow claiming your own place in the city.
  • The blend of wood metal and plant fits into the urban garden of Broadway.
  • A pleasing composition of strength and elegance

*    *    *    *    *    *

Kudos to each of the winning teams. I’m looking forward to seeing your designs become reality! Congratulations too to Carolina Trabuco and the members of her Parklet Competition committee. You quickly organized and implemented the competition in impressive fashion.

During their brief appearance this summer, I predict the parklets will prove wildly popular, attracting enthusiastic use and the attention of local media. The project may prove to be among the most effective ever undertaken by AIA-SWO in its efforts to raise the profile of our design community and showcasing the value of skilled problem-solving applied in creative and imaginative ways.

No comments: