Parklet Season Gets Off to Early Start During AIA Convention

About two dozen local architects and designers will build one-day parklets for a competition tomorrow and Friday – and you can vote for your favorite design each day.

Parklets have caused many to rethink how we use the public realm. Tomorrow and Friday, a competition invites Philly architects and designers to reimagine the parklet. | Photo credit: Dan Reed via Flickr

Parklets have caused many to rethink how we use the public realm. Tomorrow and Friday, a competition invites Philly architects and designers to reimagine the parklet. | Photo credit: Dan Reed via Flickr

Vistors in town for the American Institute of Architects national convention, Reading Terminal Market patrons, tourists and plain old passers-by will have an opportunity to relax, dine al fresco, and even play architecture critic during a two-day pop-up parklet competition being held in conjunction with the AIA convention.

From noon to 7 p.m. tomorrow and Friday, May 19th and 20th, the Saint-Gobain Parklet Design Competition will put the best efforts of some two dozen local architecture and design firms to a very public test. A dozen contestants each day will erect parklets in the curbside parking spaces in the 1200 block of Arch Street, in front of the Center for Architecture and Design. Convention-goers and the general public are invited to drop in, relax, and take in the sounds and sights of the city around them from the comfort of a parking space converted to pedestrian use.

As with the global PARK(ing) Day event on the third Friday in September, the goal of this design competition is to stimulate public awareness of the possibilities for innovative use of the public realm. In keeping with this year’s AIA convention theme, the designers will be asked to “imagine” what an ideal pop-up parklet would look light.

Two awards will be given out each day. The Jury Award, bestowed by a panel of judges, recognizes the professional verdict on the most innovative design and comes with a $1,250 cash prize. The People’s Choice Award recognizes the most creative use of public space as determined by the voting public and comes with unlimited bragging rights.

In addition to using and evaluating the park(ing) spaces, visitors will also be able to learn about Saint-Gobain’s new North American headquarters in Malvern. The parklet Saint-Gobain is building at 13th and Arch streets is not part of the competition, but it will allow conventioneers and the general public to learn about the features built into the new facility that will promote the health, safety and well-being of its users by drawing on the Saint-Gobain family of companies’ extensive portfolio of building materials. The new Malvern building houses both the North American division of Saint-Gobain and its principal U.S. subsidiary, CertainTeed. Founded in 1665 and headquartered in the La Défense commercial district just outside Paris, Saint-Gobain is a world leader in the production of sustainable building materials.

More information about the Saint-Gobain Parklet Design Competition is available on the Center for Architecture and Design website.

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