Parking Space Turned Public Space – San Francisco Pavement to Parks Program

By on January 25, 2012.

San Francisco’s parklet program aims to reclaim one parking space at a time by promoting the use of public space. In a movement coined ‘Pavement to Parks’, the San Francisco Department of Planning is looking to temporarily transform parking spaces into communal spaces. These reclaimed spaces remain entirely public and benefit the surrounding businesses and neighborhoods.  After a quick and inexpensive transformation, parklets create a comfortable atmosphere by creating seating, bike storage and adding planters. Permits last just one year and are evaluated based on use and function. Potentially, these public spaces have the opportunity to become a permanent asset for the city.

Via Rebar

Gansevoort Plaza sprung up in 2008 amongst the busy streets of Manhattan. Shut off to cars by bollards, seats and planters were implemented to create a space that people would use and feel safe in. This relocation of space was the inspiration for the city’s parklet movement.  San Francisco adapted the same concept, and used a corner in the Castro as an experiment.  Needless to say, it was a success. In 2010 San Francisco’s Department of Planning sent out a call for entries, and soon after 20 permits were underway in the city.

Rebar, a San Francisco firm, designed one for Tony’s Pizza Napoletana on Stockton Street. The firm worked with the local business in order to create a space that complimented the cuisine and vibrancy of the area. Rebar choose a sustainable material palette which consists of galvanized steel and bamboo.

Via Boor Bridges Architecture

Four Barrel Parklet, also located in San Francisco, is another successful example that not only serves Four Barrel coffee customers, but bikers and other community members. Completed in June 2011 by Boor Bridges Architecture, Four Barrel Parklet is the second project to emerge under the ‘Pavement to Parks’ program. Created from reclaimed wood and steel, it offers San Francisco’s first public, vertical bike storage.

Two dozen parklets have been created in San Francisco and the concept of the mini-plaza continues to spread.  Philadelphia, Vancouver and Chicago have already begun to implement similar concepts.  Given that urban dwellers now have new, small-scale places to relax and enjoy the local culture where there used to be pavement and oil stains, the idea promises to be a huge success.


Image Credits Via: Boor Bridges Architecture, Rebar

Sources: Architectural Record. 11. 2011., Rebar,

San Francisco’s Planning Department