The Collegian
Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Parking spaces repurposed for the Parking Lot Project

Richmond students redesigned two parking spaces in C-lot

<p>A parking space downtown was themed "a day in the park" for PARK(ing) Day.</p>

A parking space downtown was themed "a day in the park" for PARK(ing) Day.

Students converted parking spaces into social areas on Friday, Sept. 19, by turning a downtown space into a park and setting up a tailgate-style tent in a lot on campus at University of Richmond as a part of PARK(ing) Day.

PARK(ing) Day is an annual, global event where citizens, artists and activists transform metered parking spaces into temporary public places, according to the event’s website, parkingday.org.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on campus, students took over two parking spaces in C-lot, the parking lot between the Gateway Village apartments and Gottwald Science Center.

Students lounged under a tent with coffee and doughnuts, music and sidewalk chalk.

The space on E. Broad Street near UR Downtown was themed “a day in the park,” said Anna Sangree, Westhampton College '15. Students brought plants and seating, played guitar and provided food. Both locations engaged the community by asking questions that encouraged people to think about the use of space.

“The idea is to question,” said Elizabeth Schlatter, deputy director and curator of exhibitions at Richmond. “What is the purpose of the parking lot? How come so much space is allotted for this? What do we think about its sustainability, long term, and what are some other ways we could be using the space?”

The students who participated in PARK(ing) day are in a class called the Parking Lot Project, which is co-taught by Schlatter and Erling Sjovold, professor of art and studio art coordinator.

During the course of the semester, students will transform 21 parking spaces in the middle of C-lot into artwork, allowing cars to park in the open spaces between projects. Students have expressed interest in a variety of topics including physical art, environment and geography, and are in the process of proposing their ideas, Schlatter said.

“It’s primarily student driven,” Sjovold said. “We’re trying to create an interesting tempo, to really let students do their thing. It’s all about independent research.”

The class gathers for two hours on Mondays and Wednesdays in C-lot, where currently, the asphalt has been torn up from the designated “green spaces.” Schlatter said she was hopeful that students would begin constructing their projects within the next two weeks.

Junior David Ricculli is planning a carport for his project. There will be a shed over the parking space that will collect rain in a bucket and water the garden in the space beside his. Ricculli is collaborating with other students in the class to connect their projects.

Students track their progress through Instagram by posting photos with #parkinglotproject. The photos include pictures of the parking spaces, sketches of plans and inspiration for their work.

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The project is part of Richmond’s 2014-15 Tucker-Boatwright Festival for Literature and the Arts. This year, the department of art and art history is hosting the landscape-themed festival.

The Parking Lot Project, a highlight of the festival, will be offered as a course again in the spring semester, and will be taught by Sjovold and Mary Finley-Brook, professor of geography and the environment.

At the end of the academic year, C-lot will be repurposed for the Campus Master Plan.

Contact reporter Melissa Schrott at missy.schrott@richmond.edu

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