The Boston Architectural College (BAC) is pleased to announce the successful collaboration between the BAC, the Boston Green Academy (BGA), and community partners to develop a Parklet, an innovative and sustainable urban space for the City of Boston. On Wednesday, June 25, 2014, the community gathered to celebrate the ribbon-cutting of the finished Parklet on the corner of Buswell Street and Park Drive, outside of Mei Mei Street Kitchen.
The semester-long project, entitled The Parkolation Project, was a collaborative, hands-on learning partnership between the BAC and the BGA through the College's Gateway Initiative, a program which provides pro bono design services to nonprofits and municipal agencies through the greater Boston area. Acting as mentors, BAC architecture students - Risa Ishihara, Ge Wang, Estyvens Torchons and Maria Bolivar - along with BAC Gateway Instructor, Cortney Kirk, Landscape Architect at Copley Wolff Design Group, and Willa Peragine, founder of the Parkolation Project, worked with BGA high school students to develop the design for a kit of parts to be fabricated and installed as a full functioning parklet in downtown Boston.
Parklets are mini-parks that take up a few metered parking spaces. They are part of a growing movement to make urban spaces more human-centered, green and accessible. The Parkolation Project installation features patio seating, plant life, a bicycle rack where bicyclists can hang and lock their bikes, and a phone charging station that is fully sustainable via solar panels.
The goals of the Parkolation Project were to create a self-sufficient innovation that offered a space that is functional, inviting, and accessible to residents and pedestrians. In the fall of 2013, through the VSA Massachusetts' Cool School Program, BGA students worked in their environmental science class to envision, draw, and create models of possible parklets. In spring 2014, BGA students partnered with BAC students and instructors to design renderings of their ideas and turn them into a permanent installation. The Parkolation Project is now working through a Kickstarter campaign to produce an online, interactive course that teaches students anywhere how to design and build small, functional parklets and green spaces in their cities.
Since 2008, the Gateway Initiative has served nearly 1300 students and nearly 100 different local non-profits and neighborhood groups; it is a true learning laboratory, where students are actively engaged in applied, project-based learning, interacting with and serving community clients, and participating comprehensively in a wide variety of projects. Students who have participated in Gateway projects have consistently cited it as one of the most important, and powerful, aspects of their education at the BAC.