Parking Spaces: Break Room for the 21st Century?

If you’ve ever wanted to take an afternoon siesta on a patch of green grass right by Columbus Circle, today is your day, New Yorkers! Thank the fourth annual Park(ing) Day, a one-day global event where city parking spaces are transformed into oases.

The event, first held in San Francisco in 2005, was celebrated by 70 cities across the country. Transportation Alternatives, a reform-minded pedestrian advocacy group, sponsored the event in the city, and helped over 50 community groups, artists and businesses access permits for the festivities.

In the West Village, Community Boards 2 and 4 commandeered a parking space outside the gourmet supermarket Balducci’s, and were visited by virtually all of the area’s politicians, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. They retrofitted the concrete rectangle into a modern-day, outdoor wigwam, with about 120 square feet of grass, benches, potted palms and other assorted flowers. Ian Dutton, the 38-year-old vice chair of transportation for Community Board 2, called the event “a huge success, without a doubt.”

Just south of Columbus Circle, on the east side of Broadway between 58th and 59th streets, a few employees from urban development and consulting firm HR&A Advisers, repurposed four parking spaces into functioning conference and break rooms (accessorized, of course, with its very own water cooler). They even had meetings there, according to Danny Fuchs, a 23-year-old analyst who helped put together the company’s 550-square-foot space.

“Cars came by intermittently, but we didn’t mind them,” he told The Observer. According to Mr. Fuchs, whose firm has consulted on projects ranging from the South Street Seaport redevelopment project to PlanNYC, the repurposing of street space is something New York City will see more of. “People should understand what an amenity this is for office workers… This is the new Class A office building, and it’s necessary for the next generation of office buildings.”

Parking Spaces: Break Room for the 21st Century?