UA Asphalt Gets Makeover During Park(ing) Day

UA Asphalt Gets Makeover During Park(ing) Day

By La Monica Everett-HaynesUniversity Communications
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Several UA students, faculty members and staff participated in National Park(ing) Day.
Several UA students, faculty members and staff participated in National Park(ing) Day.
UA Roy P. Drachman Institute for Land and Regional Development Studies employees invited their friends to participate in National Park(ing) Day.
UA Roy P. Drachman Institute for Land and Regional Development Studies employees invited their friends to participate in National Park(ing) Day.
The School of Landscape Architecture encouraged people to bike to school and work.
The School of Landscape Architecture encouraged people to bike to school and work.

For a handful of hours, a number of parking spaces around campus were transformed from blank slabs of asphalt into parks, picnic areas, an outdoor patio and a desert oasis.

Five groups of University of Arizona employees and students rented parking spaces on Friday for $9 each and then decorated them as part of National Park(ing) Day, an event where people take over parking spaces and convert them into public and park places.

The one-day event is meant to raise awareness about the need for park space.

Katie Gannon and her colleagues – and friends – at the UA’s Roy P. Drachman Institute for Land and Regional Development Studies rented two parking spaces across the street from the institute, near Euclid Avenue and East First Street, to create an outdoor seating area.

“This really means a lot to us because we work with neighborhoods all the time to make them more walkable. We said, ‘Wow, this is what we’re all about,’” said Gannon, a research specialist at the Drachman Institute.

The institute is part of the UA’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and is a research and public service unit that works with neighborhood and communities on land development projects that have safety, health and environmental issues in mind.

Park(ing) Day, Gannon said, is about “playing in the streets, taking back the streets.”

Nearby, students in a UA studio class for architecture students  placed plants, small trees and bicycle racks with bicycles – with help from UA’s Parking and Transportation Services – into parking spaces.

The idea was to encourage people to bicycle to work and school.

Amy Wood, a second year master’s student in the School of Landscape Architecture, said that if people biked, they would be more healthy and see financial and social benefits while helping the environment. 

In preparing for Park(ing) Day, Wood said that students found that the cost to build one parking space downtown in a paved lot was $2,200 while it cost $115 to install a bicycle rack.

“We know that Tucson is doing really well in the area of bikeability,” Wood said, noting that the city of Tucson earned a “gold” level status from the League of American Bicyclists for being bike-friendly.

Wood also said that people tend to spend the bulk of their money on short trips – the kind that could easily be taken in a short amount of time even without a vehicle.

So, in working on their project, the students asked: “What can biking or walking do to a community?”

“Chance encounters. Running into people in the street,” said Iylea Olson, a second year master’s student in the School of Landscape Architecture.

“Things that couldn’t happen if you’re in your car. And it’s healthy because you get that extra exercise,” Olson said. “But I think it’s just habit for people to get into their cars. It’s habitual.”

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