Take the Wheel: Tech Square joins global PARK(ing) Day movement

PARK(ing) Day is an annual worldwide event where artists, designers, and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

Joining this global movement, Georgia Tech’s Student Planning Association recently hosted Tech Square’s own PARK(ing) day, inviting students, startups, and nonprofits to invade 5th Street and start a conversation about the best use for Atlanta’s urban public spaces. Each group was allotted a nine- by nineteen-foot parking space to create any kind of public spectacle they desired.

“Our goal was to invade the urban environment and establish a place for people to talk and interact in a way that wouldn’t have happened without this set up,” shared Neil Capanpangan, a first-year student from Kennesaw State University who hosted an astro-turfed lounge area open to any passersby needing a quick break.   

The Georgia Tech chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students filled their spot with enormous blackboards and chalk, inviting passersby to sketch their dream house. “It’s a great opportunity to question how we use our public space and whether or not we should be driving everywhere,” said Samuel McGinnis, AIAS member. 

Women In Architecture used its spot to host a floating topography design piece, constructed of nearly 2,000 plastic cups. “We want to raise awareness around what a city should be: using space for innovative design, not for cars and parking spaces,” said Ghazelah Coulter, the organization's President.

The Student Planning Association’s Parking Pong riffed on a popular drinking game to award players “candy and parking knowledge” for their efforts. “Cars are parked for what perfect of their life?” quizzed John Saxton. Sarina Sawyer guessed 93%. The real answer is closer to 95%

One parking space “park” invited the Tech Square community to place stickers on a map to track their favorite spots to spend time with friends or identify areas of town where they feel unsafe walking at night.

Other groups involved included the Atlanta Maker Faire, now the #4 Faire in the nation, startup company Recycle Wallet, and student group Starter Bikes, which provides bikes to novice riders while training them on safety tips and common repairs.

The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.

In that spirit, one PARK(ing) Day group invited the Tech Square community to make recommendations for ways to improve the city by answering the question, “If Only Atlanta Would…”

 One of the most frequent responses to that question? “Improve MARTA.”

Good news, there: Atlanta is working to improve MARTA! And it’s calling on the Tech community to help. Check out more details at MARTAhackathon.org and throw your skills into the ring October 28 – 29. 

The worldwide event is held annually the third Friday of September, making September 15 the date for next years' extravaganza. So start dreaming, Tech Square. How would you use your park?