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parking lot recess

This post starts with a backlog of topics:

– First, I’ve learned that we have readers – fantastic! Thanks for stopping by.

– Took the train to Charlotte – Amtrak is excellent and costs $26; Charlotte is bigger and brighter than I expected; I’m experiencing some urban envy that I’m dealing with privately.

– Technical question: should architects share their CAD files as a professional courtesy? Not an interesting answer either way, I’m letting it go.

– Enjoyed opening day for the long-awaited but low-profile public-private development of the Wilmoore Café on Wilmington Street. My coffee tastes better at home, but the storefront is classy, and the connection with the city and the bus station is brave, well executed, and reparative, although politically awkward. The precedent debates are in progress, but it would help if the food was either really good or less expensive.

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I discovered today that a local school is using THIS property for recess. To indicate the obvious: this is a parking lot (currently in use as a parking lot); the lot area is very small (0.19 acres); the lot is bounded on three sides by traffic including a Y-intersection; across the bounding streets is a steep drop-off to active freight train tracks and a bridge, and dilapidated unleasable commercial building stock.

There is no playground equipment here. There is no fence.  This property cannot be confused with a park. (Parking Lot and Park are not synonyms.) It doesn’t even have sidewalks or lighting. It is a genuinely dangerous piece of land. And, any school would still be several blocks away, meaning that accessing this playground with a class load of children is a significant movement in itself.

Ironically, if my history is correct, this lot was the fourth original Square in Raleigh, which was cut in half by the railroad and an associated reconfiguration of the original grid. Perhaps, these teachers are making a statement, hoping to affect change or a return to the past. It’s bold, but it’s not cool.

Dear urban planner friends, developers, teachers, parents of these kids, and owners of these parked cars – please give these kids a better place for recess before somebody gets hurt.

Andy Osterlund AIA | LEED AP
Andrew Osterlund, Architect, PLLC
19 W Hargett Street, Suite 700-A | Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 889 6823 | | TWITTER: aoarch

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