INHABITAT: How do you work with the public sector, since the work you do is a little bit different than other design studios? As a studio involved in public and urban spaces, how does community involvement play into your project designs?MATT: Our work is deeply engaged in public space and concerned with the quality and variety of public space. We promote public participation as an important aspect of improving public space. When you work on projects like such as these, by definition, your partners are city agencies, government agencies, nonprofits, advocacy groups, and so forth.
INHABITAT: How did Rebar get its start?
MATT: Rebar started around a project called the Cabinet National Library. We were inspired by an art magazine in Brooklyn called Cabinet, which had bought a piece of land in New Mexico on eBay and invited cultural events and installations to occur on the land. I actually to them a “National Library,” which would be a file cabinet in an earthen berm that would house all the back issues of their magazine. They thought that was great and hilarious. At the time, one of my friends, John Bela, was in graduate school studying landscape architecture, and we started talking about this project. We eventually developed a plan, and we built it in 2004. Following that very fruitful collaboration, we decided to create an organization, call ourselves Rebar, and pursue more projects. The second project was “PARK(ing),” which evolved into Park(ing) Day. Once that project blew up, there were so many opportunities, and so much interest in our work, that we really needed to form an organization and develop ourselves creatively.
INHABITAT: What can you tell me about the inspiration behind Park(ing) Day, and how is Rebar staying involved as the project grows?
MATT: We first did [PARK(ing) Day] on Mission Street, here in San Francisco. It started with occupying one parking space for two hours, which was the term of the lease offered on the face of the parking meter.