Rendering courtesy 3North
A visit to the first official parklet in San Francisco inspired Virginia Commonwealth University students Ricardo Hernandez-Perez and Lauren Versino to develop a similar concept in Richmond. Upon returning to VCU, the students won a $2,500 research grant to create two of the small public parks on the Robinson Street corridor.
"It's a way of providing pop-up park space in areas of the city that might need or want it," says 3North architect Damon Pearson. The architectural design company submitted the parklet design to the city earlier this year.
"We tried to be site-specific in the design," Pearson says of the 150-square-foot parks planned for the corners where Stuart Avenue and Cary Street intersect Robinson Street. The Stuart Avenue parklet, which is kitty-corner to a Starbucks, will have seating space for people to meet for coffee along with a bicycle rack and small plants. On the opposite end of the corridor, the Cary Street park will face the GRTC bus depot, which is to be the site of the RVA Street Art Festival Sept. 11-15. "It was intended that parts of that park would be integrated into the street art festival," Pearson says, adding that park organizers hope to have them completed by mid-September. While parklets are an emerging concept in urban design, neighborhood pocket parks have been around for a while. This year, Paradise Park celebrates its 40th anniversary. The brick and concrete park that was designed by artist and architect Carlton Abbott is located in the interior of the 1700 block of Grove Avenue in the Fan and, like most neighborhood parks, it is maintained by community volunteers. The Chester Garden Club landscapes Chester's pocket park on the corner of West Hundred and Chester Road. "It makes you feel better about your community," Chester Community Association President Elliott Fausz says of the almost 14,000-square-foot park he drives past every day on his way to work. "It just makes everybody a little happier."