Talking Public Space and Urban Intervention With San Francisco’s Rebar Studio
A permanent parklet
INHABITAT: One Rebar design that will be familiar to many San Franciscans are “parklets” – tiny urban parks and seating areas created from one or two curbside parking spaces. How are you collaborating with the city and business owners to create these?
MATT: One of the main reactions of the City of San Francisco to “Park(ing) Day” was to develop a permit process to allow businesses, community groups, and individuals to convert a parking space into a public plaza. We worked very closely with the city to develop the pilot project and build a parklet on 22nd Street, but now it’s an open permit process and anyone can apply. We’ve built about a half dozen so far, and several more are on the docket. People come to us [for design and building] because we have a real sensitivity to the needs of the business and community groups and how to balance those interests with the public interest in having a successful public space.
The City just approved a couple dozen [new parklets]. This year on PARK(ing) Day I rode my bike down Valencia Street to survey the installations and I saw: “Parklet, Parklet, Parklet, Parking Day installation, Parklet…” There were very many more parklets than Park(ing) Day installations! So in a sense, our job in a city like San Francisco is done. Park(ing) Day is becoming less relevant, because the city itself now has a program to convert metered parking spaces. It’s quite gratifying to see something like Park(ing) Day influence the city in such a direct way.
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