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Green For a Day: Bmore Metered Parking Enjoys a Temporary Boost In Curb Appeal

FTLA celebrates Global PARK(ing) Day - Arianne Teeple
FTLA celebrates Global PARK(ing) Day - Arianne Teeple
It was a beautiful, sun-filled day last Friday and business was anything but usual for Floura Teeter Landscape Architects (FTLA). Instead of client meetings or project planning, FTLA's staff was outside under a makeshift structure in three parking spaces on Franklin Street enjoying refreshments and fun with friends. The reason: they were participating in an annual, worldwide event called PARK(ing) Day, during which metered parking spots in urban areas from Melbourne, Australia to Seoul, Korea are transformed into public parks and other social spaces.

"We're trying to recognize that the city is paved and urban," said Aaron Teeter, principal at FTLA. "And while we're doing this, it's a way to reconnect people back with nature and try to improve the quality of life and recognize the importance of parks in the city."

PARK(ing) Day was originally invented in 2005 by Rebar, a San Francisco-based art and design studio, to challenge people to rethink the way streets are used. "In urban centers around the world, inexpensive curbside parking results in increased traffic, wasted fuel and more pollution," said Rebar's Matthew Passmore. "The strategies that generated these conditions are not sustainable, nor do they promote a healthy, vibrant human habitat. PARK(ing) Day is about re-imagining the possibilities of the urban landscape."

For FTLA, it was their second year participating in the grassroots movement and an opportunity to display a green roof, a concept which has gained increasing popularity in urban areas in the past few years. "A green roof is such a great educational opportunity because of people's thirst for knowledge about green roofs. The idea of sitting out on the street in a green space even for a day so people can see what a difference green can make in such a desolate environment is powerful," said Joan Floura, principal at FTLA. "It's a fun thing for our office as well, for our staff to have a break on a Friday and spend time with our clients in a fun and cool way."

Jeremy Frederick, landscape designer with FTLA, designed the firm's PARK(ing) spaces including the green roof structure. "There are so many benefits to a green roof that people aren't aware of. The main one would be filtering water and reducing run-off. It can also help you save on heating and cooling," said Frederick. "It would be great if everyone was doing a green roof because it's such an environmental benefit. It's so much better than a plain black rubber roof that's shooting water into storm drains. Just as people are interested in saving energy inside their homes, they'd have a chance to save from this, too."

In addition the green roof structure, FTLA transformed the remainder of the three metered spaces it took over into a temporary oasis of grass, tress, and plants. "There were probably 50 or 60 of us out there," said Teeter. "We played bocce ball for a little bit and all in all it was just a really great day. Last year we just had a garden out front. This year we wanted to be just a little bit more educational and I think we accomplished that. We'll probably do this year after year."

Teeter said that other Baltimore organizations that participated in PARK(ing) Day included EDSA, Ayers Saint Gross, the Maryland Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Morgan State University School of Architecture and Planning. "We hope even more firms do it next year and that we helped generate excitement for people," said Teeter. "We want it to snowball so more and more Baltimore firms are participating and seeing it for the opportunity that it is."

The event has grown on a worldwide level since it started five years ago. PARK(ing) Day 2009 included more than 700 installations in more than 140 cities in 21 countries on six continents, and this year it included the first-ever PARK installation in Tehran, Iran. "Urban inhabitants worldwide recognize the need for new approaches to making the urban landscape," said Rebar's John Bela. "PARK(ing) Day demonstrates that even temporary or interim spatial reprogramming can improve the character of the city."

A graduate of both Towson University and University of Baltimore, Nicole Jovel lived in the Baltimore area for nine years. She writes for both corporate clients and local and regional publications.

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Photos by Arianne Teeple

1. Floura Teeter Landscape Architects transformed parking spaces on Franklin Street in Baltimore into a landscape for Global PARK(ing) Day.

2. Joan Floura, RLA LEED AP, left, and Aaron Teeter, RLA LEED AP, right, of Floura Teeter Landscape Architects.

3. A green roof display for visitors to learn about at FTLA's global PARK(ing) Day celebration.

4. Jeff Stump, Floura Teeter Landscape Architects, works at his desk.

5. One of many plants used to create the curbside landscape by FTLA.

6. Serenity Owens, 2, of Baltimore, plays on the FTLA curbside landscape.

7. Parking meters were reserved for FTLA's curbside landscape for Global PARK(ing) Day.
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