Remember PARKing day? When groups of people would gather early in the morning and stake out parking spots throughout cities and turn them into makeshift parks for the day? Such a cool concept. Yet, these days, in Portland, you find the parking areas throughout the city re-purposed for bike racks or restaurant seating. PSU, though, went all out and created a parklet at the food cart pod on SW 4th between Hall and College. Now you can sit and enjoy your Khao Man Gai while enjoying the hustle and bustle of the city.
The area around the PSU Pod is ever changing with a mix of residential, city services and office space. The pod attracts both students, contractors who are awaiting permitting meetings across the street and office workers from neighboring businesses. Any given day, the sidewalk in front of the carts is crowded with eager and hungry eaters, yet historically, there wasn’t anywhere to sit. The parklet came about from a partnership between the SoMa (South of Market) EcoDistrict, Portland State University’s School of Architecture, Sustainability Neighborhoods Initiative and the Institute for Sustainable Solutions. Other partners included Oregon Pacific Investment and Development, CH2M/Hill, Sustainable Northwest Wood and Green Hammer. The community was also integral in making this happen, helping the group raise $15,000 to pay for materials and other expenses.
The parklet was born out of a design studio course in the School of Architecture in fall 2013, taught by Assistant Professor B.d. Wortham-Galvin. A team of students and partners then presented their design to the city and the project moved forward with completion in spring of 2015. While many will bemoan the loss of a few parking spaces, I find these parklets to be welcoming and a fresh approach to streetscaping.
The SoMa Parklet took over parking at the corner of SW 4th and College right in front of the food carts. Benches and varied height tables offer a respite from the concrete curb often used by eaters. So cool. Now we just need a few at 10th and Alder.
Congrats to the SoMa Ecodistrict and the students and faculty at Portland State University for bringing this to fruition.
More details about the parklet can be found here.