Just like riding a bike, a desire to play is something you never grow out of or forget.
That belief is core to OPN Architects’ winning bike parklet design selected by the Iowa City Downtown District and Think Bicycles of Johnson County.
Designed by Justin Bishop, Marcelo Aruani, and Hugh Soward, OPN’s concept is a 25-foot long, 8-foot high parklet that is part public art installation, part functional bike parking responds to Iowa City’s reputation as a bike-friendly, playful community.
The design recognizes Iowa City’s community identity by marrying three functions — public sculpture, community playground, and bicycle parking — into one structure. It makes a bold statement with an iconic structure that will create memorable experiences for all ages.
Constructed with 1.5 -inch steel pipes, the letters P, L, A, and Y, are highlighted with bright colors. The resulting shape is both playful, functional, and modular for off season storage or use at another site. The space between the L and A creates a bench. The high points of each of the letters form an 8-foot high jungle gym akin to monkey bars on a playground. Wide enough for a wheel chair to pass through, the space is designed to encourage play as well as repose within while offering functional bike parking.
The parklet’s primary function, though, is as a safe place to secure a bicycle. Our design encourages and inspires cyclists to lock their bikes to the structure in a traditional manner on street level or hanging from one of the high points of the bars. In this way, the parklet is also a public art installation, a living sculpture that changes by the minute and the day.
Cyclists and community are invited to PLAY on Words in more ways than one.
The downtown district’s request for designs is part of an overall strategy to improve bicycle infrastructure and friendliness in downtown Iowa City. The parklet is designed to hold up to 40 bicycles and will be located on the east side of Dubuque St, near the corner of Washington St. and Dubuque St. in a space that is currently a loading zone adjacent to US Bank. The parklet will be installed during a public unveiling event anticipated for mid August 2016.
Design submittals were evaluated by a committee consisting of city staff, local bicycle advocates, ICDD staff, and downtown business owners and “Play” was selected based on its superior achievement, according to a release from the downtown district.
Anne Duggan, President of Think Bicycles of Johnson County and a member of the selection committee, said: “the ‘Play’ parklet is just the first of many improvements for bicycles in Iowa City. This one adds a bit of fun to the serious business of bringing people downtown. The parklet will add much needed bike parking right where it’s needed downtown.”
OPN Architects, is a regional design firm with three studios across Iowa and Wisconsin, and is set to open their fourth location in Downtown Iowa City in August 2016.
“We look forward to contributing to the ongoing success in Iowa City,” said Bishop, an Associate Principal at OPN, who will lead the Iowa City office. “this project was conceived as an interactive public sculpture that uniquely represents our city while providing functional amenities to support the bike community.”