edar v.2 - the nightcase

your park

Team: Ken McCown, 4th Yr Architecture Studio Fall 2012, UNLV Downtown Design Center, Gensler Las Vegas

This Park(ing) Day installation allowed students to understand steps to acquire and craft public space; to engage the public to discover their wants and needs in downtown public space and to see how to make comfortable spaces in the Mojave Desert. This project demonstrates how design-build can help to develop research to refine regionally appropriate design. 

This three-week project challenged students to procure a public space, and design and build an installation as part of an urban design project for a new ‘Town Square’ in Las Vegas.  We wanted to know what a ‘Town Square’ in Downtown Las Vegas should have.  Going to the public with a temporary parklet us engage and get responses in a serendipitous and unstructured manner.   The climate in the desert and an understanding of comfort were critically important factors to understand for outdoor space.  Discussion with the public to discover their programming needs and wants were also essential to be able to develop what a 'Town Square' in Las Vegas should be.   

Project parameters included constraints and opportunity of location, policy, budget, and comfort.  The courthouses and city/office complexes site gave a broad spectrum of citizens and a high rate of foot traffic. We ‘purchased’ three parking spots; the city would not give us just one.  This removed a conflict with the local food truck arriving first every day to gain the parking spot we identified.  We offered them ‘free parking’ on the south spot, and used the north spot for logistical purposes.  The food truck helped our foot traffic, too!

We had no project money.  All materials were donated or scavenged and recycled/recyclable materials.  The design elements included a palette floor and wall, planters with pink-hued flax (owned by the designers already), seats, bench, community table for input and balloons for shade.  Seating and shade elements could be moved for research and feedback on shade and comfort.  Good, comfortable seating patterns are key to park sustainability - ease of use relates to longevity.

The community table/cube was made of donated construction waste material and kept in the university design center to continue conversation about a future downtown park.  The table sat on casters so we could move it to the edge of the park to snag passers by.  The height and size of the table facilitated group discussion and let less gregarious users occupy a side to record their thoughts.  

The seating was built from repurposed milk crates and recycled cardboard.  The floor and walls were created from wooden palettes.  Planters and plants came from the local design center.  All materials were returned and recycled.  The donated balloons went to participants giving feedback and night time Park(ing) Day installations in Downtown.

Over 100 meaningful responses appeared on the cube through conversations; we mapped seating patterns, learned about the importance of shade, how to work with the city, and advocated for a park in a downtown that does not have one.