On Friday, parking spaces throughout downtown Ames were converted to small parklets for public viewing.
The parklets were designed and built by students from the Iowa State Landscape Architecture Program as part of a global participatory art project, Park (ing) Day.
Park (ing) Day began in San Francisco after a group called Rebar realized that metered parking was some of the cheapest and most available real estate in the entire city. When the group created its first parklet, word spread and people around the world started creating parklets to fill parking spaces in urban areas.
At Ames, the students split into groups and partnered with six small businesses. They were given a small budget for materials and were tasked with meeting with business owners and deciding how the park should represent the business. This collaboration not only allowed the public to enjoy small parks throughout the downtown area, but it also exposed the students to real experiences, reflecting the careers they were working towards.
The parklets were designed and built on campus, then moved by truck to designated parking spaces.
The roles of the students?
Design their parks and determine the logistics of their assembly.
Many students had little or no experience in carpentry or construction, which required them to learn as they went.
Some business students have partnered with Everts Flowers Home and Gifts, the Octagon Center For the Arts, the Chocolate Factory Stam, the Ames Public Library, and Dog Eared Books. A group has partnered with several companies that share the same owner: Cooks’ Emporium, Nook and Nest and ZW Mercantile.
In front of Everts Flowers stood a small park surrounded by real and false plants, along with sculptures and decorations provided by store owner Brian Smith. Eclipsed by two trees, the parklet even featured a small pool with live fish inside, making the parklet feel like a small version of the taller parks that many are familiar with.
A member of the group who assembled the parklet in front of Everts Flowers, Hagen Carter, a junior major in landscape architecture, explained some of the details of his group’s parklet.
“I’m really happy that we have the trees, it creates more [of an] pregnant which makes good sense as a pedestrian, ”Carter said. “You don’t want to feel exposed, exposed. We tried to create something very green, lush, or restorative, as we call it. Just a place you want to enjoy a bit. ”
Smith expressed his feelings about Park (ing) Day and his collaboration with Carter’s group.
“It’s great, we’ve met them a few times about the ideas they had that they wanted to incorporate,” Smith said. “Then I also took a tour of the store and I had pieces of my business that they could use to support what they were planning to do, that was a win-win thing. He gives the students the opportunity to go out and meet people. Some people never know that downtown Ames exists as a student, so I think it’s a good thing to try and have more students at the downtown.
Smith pointed out how well the students were able to match the aesthetic of the flower shop.
“I think their concept of what they wanted to promote fit very well with my business, with the plants, the cultivation, the outdoors, things like that. It was really well suited to what they were promoting, ”Smith said.
This project allowed students to practice interacting with customers and designing a park or landscape that matched the customer’s desires. Another group of students who have worked hard to encapsulate their business have teamed up with Chocolatarie Stam, a business with a rich history and an interior filled with personality.
The parklet stood out, appearing as a comfortable living room, with seating areas, coffee tables, and plenty of plants and decorations to fill the space. A member of this group, landscape architecture junior Juan Rodriguez, explained the business and design choices that went into their parklet.
“We sat here for hours and noticed that most people only had coffee or chocolate,” Rodriguez said. “They sit there for hours just talking, reading, doing their homework. It’s also a place of study and that’s what we wanted to do there. That’s why we stained the floors, we wanted to make everything look worn out, we went to thrift stores and got all the furniture, we wanted that iconic brick wall to be depicted with our little brick wall.
Bringing together students from the State of Iowa and several small businesses in downtown Ames, the project gave students the opportunity to practice the skills they learned in school while helping small businesses to market themselves. Ames.