Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Photo: Granville and Drake

Hipster photo, I know.

Pavement to Parks: Vancouver / San Francisco

***Mind the Gap: Traveling seems to put me off my posting (though, it does give me something to post about). 

Summer is over (if you're in Vancouver, you'd probably agree) and while I felt the weather was a bit of a bust there was great public space things happening in the city. Viva Vancouver was busy and late in the summer they gave Vancouver it's first 'parklet' or 'pop-up cafe' - Parallel Park - on the corner of Main and 14th Ave. 
It takes up 2 parking spots and is open to the public - no purchase necessary
While this is a huge step for Vancouver re-imagining public space, I'd like to see us do a bit better. While the design is pretty good, the placement and timing was a bit off for me. The park was constructed on a side street, in front of the jjbean coffee house and it basically looked like an extension of jjbean's patio. I'd love to see this type of space in a more high-traffic area with several adjacent establishments. It was also set up relatively late in the summer and overall, I think these factors limited its exposure to the public.

Earlier this month, I was on a business trip in San Francisco and I got to see, first hand, what these spaces could be if done right. San Francisco has a dedicated program called 'Pavement to Parks' and they have done phenomenal work. All of the spaces are superbly designed with high quality materials and are in well-used (high pedestrian) areas.
This one offers flexible tables and chairs for the public to use

 It seems the Pavement to Parks website is a bit out of date because their Powell Street project listed as 'Upcoming' was already built and it looks gorgeous. Constructed on a really busy street that I can only describe as their Robson Street, they put in parklets all along both sides of the street. Here's a post that Streetsblog did about it.
Conceptual Block Layout from their website


 Overall, the design is smart and kind of sexy. Here are some photos I snapped with my phone:


And here's another parklet from across the street being enjoyed by some people. 

 And another:

 I paid a slight pilgrimage to the Castro and found the space they created called the 'Castro Commons' and it definitely felt like the living room of the neighbourhood. They had treated the pavement with some coloured/textured paint and added planters to block of traffic. Seating and tables were added, too (not enough, if you ask me).


There didn't seem a need to worry/nanny people too much about the operating street car that runs through the space.


Here's a shot of the space as it approached the sidewalk where more tables and seating would have been appreciated.


My friends had to pull me away from some of these parklets. I'm a nerd, I know. Vancouver, put my jealousy to rest and start building already.