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Four Pop-Up Parks Contributed To Green Space For A Day

By Pamela Rouse and Jenni Simcoe
Published: Monday, September 20, 2010, at 12:06PM
IMG_0396 Jenni Simcoe [Flickr]

A preview of the future Spring Street Park, presented by the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council and Bolt Barbers.



Park[ing] Day L.A. brought pop-up park spaces across the city on Friday with the aim of bringing attention to Los Angeles' need for more green. Four groups paid the meter and took over parking spots Downtown, offering different visions on what mini-parks could look like.

SPRING STREET PARK[ING]: DLANC's installation space at 450 S. Spring was filled with fresh sod that was headed to someone's backyard at the end of the event. Those who didn't want to lie down on the grass relaxed on a lawn chair and bench as "Mohawk" Matt Berman of Bolt Barbers gave out free haircuts to teens on a field trip. He worked the crowd while giving one boy a buzz cut, encouraging them to become barbers rather than cosmetologists because of a shortage of barbers and better pay. Pitfire Pizza delivered several pies at lunchtime. This seemed to further a sense of small town, neighborhood-focused community.

The location was chosen because of its proximity to the future Spring Street Park. The Bureau of Engineering and consultants Lehr Architects displayed a diorama of what the layout of the park may look like along with a cross-section of stonework that will be used for pathways, demonstrating how they will help with rain and water run-off.

Valerie Watson, DLANC at-large director and chair of the council's Parks, Recreation and Open Space committee, said the park on Spring will be mixed-use, not just for dogs or people. There will be "alot of green and a respite from the urban condition," she added.

"There's something magical about having this temporary park, knowing it's a moment for one day, to have this. It reminds you of the space you give to the car, if you put just a little 8 by 20 space and put some grass on it, how transformative that can be--one location and the context in which it's sitting."

Several Downtown park projects are planned or in the works, Watson noted. "This past year has been such a great year for park planning." Because of this, she said they wanted to put the spotlight on the Spring Street Park.

"It's really a celebration of all the effort that we've been very successful with in the last year...and show all of our neighbors that may not be engaged in these processes, have them see that there is going to be a park here and that we are working to create these spaces for residents, visitors, businesses to enjoy. What this is, is a little taste of what's going to happen in 2012 when the Spring Street Park will go up."

RECYCLED PARK[ING]: In front of the Central Library at 633 W. 5th, HMC Architects set up "Recycled Park[ing]" with a bamboo garden of all edible plants and herbs.

"We made this all out of recycled drawing tubes that were donated to us by Ford Graphics," said HMC's Nick Bryan. Rather than have the tubes end up in the trash, the architects decided to fashion them into an urban community park. A team of employees chipped in and helped grow the plants. "They're all food products: tomatoes, herbs, snow peas. We grew them all from seeds in our office."

The tubes are made from cardboard and were cut down and fashioned into the garden. "Otherwise they'd just end up in a landfill," he said. Around lunchtime they planned to hand out the plants to passersby to take home for their own gardens.

This is HMC Architect's second year participating in Park[ing] Day.

FASHION YOUR DISTRICT: AECOM, a Downtown-based planning and design firm, set up a park to get the public's input on how they'd like to see the Fashion District made-over. The design consultants, led by project manager Gaurav Srivastava, brought a model of the entire district. The other half of the parking space was made as a gathering spot, complete with benches and palm trees bordering the space.

The creatives behind the project spent time trying to borrow mannequins but when they got rejections they decided to go with stylish cutouts of dresses and shirts with questions and phrases on each piece.

The Fashion Your District project is an effort to strengthen the district as a unique neighborhood, fully integrated with the rest of Downtown, while also reinforcing the district’s position as a preeminent international fashion center. The project includes several phases that focus on various issues including Market Feasibility, Land Use, Green Street and Alley Network, Urban Design, Transportation Section, Sustainability, and Public Art & Creativity.

"We wanted to come out to get the public's input of what they want the district to be," said Srivastava. Also on-hand were other members of his team including a landscape architect who was there to discuss landscaping and park spaces with residents and visitors.

mindTHEpark[ing]: Arts District-based architecture firm APHIDoIDEA took over a space on Los Angeles and 7th Street in front of Santee Court. "We decided to use cardboard tubes to make an installation that was park-like with alternative materials," said Andrew Hernandez.

Along with architects Jackie Munoz, Eddie Magana, and Paulina Magana, Hernandez made the space with varying heights of triangular cardboard "trees" that swayed in the wind when vehicles drove by. The architects, who have been focusing on large-scale installations since the economy put a freeze on building projects, also had a cardboard and plastic pond with live goldfish and grass cut out of faux-grass mirroring the angles of the triangular tubes. At noon they took over the neighboring parking space to set up a grill and serve hot dogs to [park] visitors.

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