PARK(ing) Day showed us what Miami could be if parking spots were public parks

Over the weekend, ordinary parking spaces all over Miami were transformed into small urban parks as part of PARK(ing) Day, an annual event that happens all over the world.

Initially founded by Rebar, a San Francisco art and design firm in 2005, PARK(ing) day  calls out the need for more open spaces in urban areas. The group started by renting out a metered parking spot for two hours. They rolled out grass, set up a potted tree, and plopped down a bench — and just like that they made a public green space. When the meter ran out they packed up the park and were on their way.

This year Urban Impact Lab, a civic innovation firm, made a competition out of it, with support from the Parks Foundation, the Miami Center for Architecture & Design, AIA Miami, Miami Dade County Parks, and Miami Parking Authority. [Editor’s note: This paragraph has been corrected to accurately reflect Urban Impact Lab’s participation in the event.]

Thirteen parking spaces around Miami were transformed. Six student teams and three professional design teams competed. (The remaining parklets were just built for funsies by other organizations around Miami.)

Over the course of the day, four judges traveled around Miami-Dade, visiting pop-up parks in Wynwood, Downtown Miami, and Brickell. They chose two winners:

For the emerging students prize: A group of students at the University of Miami School of Architecture designed what they called a Hexat Garden — a series of wooden hexagons stacked with succulents and other small potted plants. It was just outside of Wynwood Diner.

For the professional design prize, FLOR, a carpeting company in the Design District, and Price Street Projects, a Miami-based design studio, teamed up to create “Green Space” at a lot Downtown, just outside of Manna Life Food.

While the mini-parks could only stay up for one day because of permitting issues, some businesses like Downtown Miami’s Soya y Pomodoro and Wynwood’s Mana want to make their parks a permanent fixture, permit permitting.

And the interest has inspired the Urban Impact Lab to look into what could make that happen.

“We’re working on legislation for what it would look like to build out these parklets,” said Marta Viciedo, the group’s co-founder.