PARKing Day 2020

The day started with a frenzied assembly equivalent to that of a traveling circus in efficiency and our only salvation was the chilly morning and low traffic. It took eight adults, a U-Haul, three paint brushes, two paint cans, countless plants, and numerous cupcakes.

PARKing Day is an international event that reclaims parking spots amidst an urban environment and transforms them into delightful pedestrian moments, usually a park or interactive element. This installation holiday is used as a friendly reminder of just how much parking fills a city and how much more beautiful the city could be as a pedestrian-centric metropolis.

Led by Ron Yearwood and Yessenia Vega, Smith Gee Studio hit the ground running with a variance of ideas. Do we address any events from this year? Do we provide a “backyard patio” for the neighborhood in Germantown? Can we have any interactive elements in a world where it is imperative that we stay six feet apart?

Kristen Prevost suggested the idea of extruding an inspirational word like “joy” or “equal” or “dream” with the concept of instilling hope and optimism in our neighborhood while also providing an outdoor neighborhood patio. It was coupled with a suggestion from Jonathan Sexton to position our installation adjacent or close to “The Cupcake Collection” to garner traffic from their patrons and to encourage our visitors to treat themselves on that pleasant Friday. We wanted to bring attention to a local business and wanted to use them as inspiration for color palette and objects, instantly gravitating to large-scale cupcake seating, bold colors, and bright greenery.

The project was completed over a series of five weekends under a carport, thanks to Ron generously volunteering his home. We started by cutting plywood sheets and assembling the pieces with wood glue and a nail gun. Then, we painted the letters where the vertical pieces were a soft blue and the horizontal elements were a vivid pink. We also used the colors to paint the tops of electrical wheels that would be our oversized cupcake tables once wrapped with a translucent corrugated plastic. The final touch was creating faux garden boxes that would hold donated plants and painting them a bright yellow.

September 20, 2020 had finally arrived for us to begin our installation. The day started at seven in the morning, with volunteers from all parties involved to assemble the exhibit. Turf had to be rolled out, letters needed to be carefully placed, garden boxes were strategically organized and filled, the road was attacked with dots of chalk paint, and signage was placed. The day was rejuvenating as we got to see people’s faces and chat, inform visitors about our intention and PARKing Day’s objective. It may not have been a normal PARKing Day but it was a success regardless with the beautiful day, perfectly executed installation, and the joy we could spark in ourselves and passerbys.

We hope you enjoyed our installation and The Cupcake Collection and we look forward to next year’s project!

If you would like to see the other projects, please visit the Civic Design Center Website and please vote on our project for the Golden Cone Awards here by liking our photo!