By Dave Collins
The DEGW San Francisco office recently participated in Park(ing) Day 2011. Park(ing) day is an international event where for a single day, people across the world turn metered parking spots into miniature “parklets”. The goal of the annual holiday is to call attention to the need for urban green space and to urge citizens to think creatively about how to use the urban environment. The brainchild of San Francisco based Rebar Art + Design Studio, the event is now in its sixth year, and in 2011 was celebrated by people in 183 cities across the world.

The DEGW San Francisco team began the planning process in July, with a series of brainstorms that eventually led to the theme of “Work/Play”. As the date drew near, the Park(ing) Day task force gathered all the necessary supplies: 2×4’s, large metal pipes and AstroTurf were assembled in the woodshop of our colleague, Paul Schuette. After a furious Saturday of measuring, sawing and hammering, the parklet equipment was complete. Two “lawn”chairs, and a see-saw/desk complete with AstroTurf seats were ready to hit the street!

At 7AM on September  16th, the Park(ing) Day team arrived to the corner of Geary and Grant streets, in the heart of Union Square. We quickly sprang into action, and after a few short trips back and forth from our storage location (which doubles as our office) the work/play parklet was ready for visitors.

Throughout the day we had a number of planned activities. At 9AM, we held our weekly DEGW team meeting, with the entire office assembling outside to munch on zucchini bread and discuss the next week’s work. As the rush of the morning commute slowed, hordes of tourists began to approach with curiously contorted faces begging the same question: “What on earth are you DOING out here?” Soon a local news truck arrived and spoke with our colleague William about what he was hoping to accomplish by sitting on a see saw in the middle of downtown. A number of Park(ing) Day “park-hoppers” arrived, ours being just the first of a list of parklets on their day long tour of the event. A freelance journalist, currently writing his thesis on Park(ing) Day, engaged us in a Q&A session while bouncing up and down on our makeshift playground equipment. Later in the afternoon we commenced a series of hourly whiteboard brainstorm sessions, engaging passersby with questions such as “what is your favorite park?”, “What do you like most about your office?” and “If you could change one thing about work, what would it be and why?” (You can view the brainstorm results on twitter… and follow us while you’re at it).

Around 5PM, as the sun began to set, and our supplies of brownies and cupcakes started to dwindle, it was time to pack up the park and bring it back to the office. As quickly as it was assembled, the park had disappeared, leaving only memories of mobile whiteboards and the promise of what a single parking space can become.

View pictures and video from the event here