Architecture students to transform downtown Sept. 18

Ceiling of a Park(ing) Day structure built by UNL architecture students. UNL will again take part in the global event on Sept. 18.
Ceiling of a Park(ing) Day structure built by UNL architecture students. UNL will again take part in the global event on Sept. 18.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Architecture will take part in “Park(ing) Day” from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 18. Students will transform ordinary parking stalls into temporary public parks and spaces. Students will be exhibiting their installed work in downtown Lincoln on P Street.

Lincoln's “Park(ing) Day” is part of a larger global event where citizens, designers and activists collaborate to change parking spots into habitable park-like spaces for a day. The event began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking stall into a temporary public park. Locally, this project is directed by UNL's College of Architecture assistant professor Peter Olshavsky and sponsored by the American Institute of Architects Nebraska Chapter Lincoln.

These exhibits aren't just built in one hour; they originate as a four-week team project for second-year architecture students with guidance by faculty including Emily Andersen, Robert Trempe and Peter Olshavsky. This project provides students with experience in designing, prototyping and eventually building their creations. Each exhibit is pre-built modularly to allow for quick and easy installation the morning of the event. Most students will begin installing their exhibits around 8:30 a.m. and will be finished by 9 a.m. for a display that will be up until 4 p.m. Local AIA members will be reviewing the students' work and will be around for their exhibition.

The College of Architecture and its collaborative partners joined this national event four years ago. It was an extracurricular event for architecture students that was originally funded by an Eco-Leadership Grant for Canada-U.S. Fulbright Alumni. Fortunately for the college, Olshavsky happened to be a Fulbright alum.

This project is a favorite for many students and has grown in popularity. Usually, it is held on campus, but this is the first year that it will be displayed in downtown Lincoln.

By having “Park(ing) Day” downtown, Olshavsky hopes to engage the public in a responsible way while promoting the value of design. Of course for his students this is also a great learning opportunity.

"This is a unique exercise that teaches students how to be responsible for the design process from early iteration to prototype, to final construction," said Olshavsky. "I'm always fascinated to watch how our students have the ability to evolve from concept to detail level quickly" and all the while having the tenacity and creativity to find ways to inhabit these parking stalls in truly unique ways."