Popup parks provide interactive downtown experience

A family visiting from Italy plays cornhole at the Toss-Around Park.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
A family visiting from Italy plays cornhole at the Toss-Around Park. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Downtown Salt Lake’s population swells twice a year as over 125,000 people gather around Temple Square for the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The Downtown Alliance chose the busy conference weekend to debut its Downtown Garden Stroll, five artist-designed public “popup” parks lining sidewalks on a two block stretch of Main Street.

“It is re-imaging an urban space,” said Nick Como, Senior Director of Communication and Marketing for the Downtown Alliance.

The goal of the Garden Stroll is to build upon Downtown’s largest urban garden, the gardens at Temple Square.  Conference goers tend to not venture past Temple Square or the City Creek Center.   The alliance wants to use the gardens to get visitors to explore other parts of downtown.

“I really like that it allows us to interact, to be a part of the exhibit,” said Audrey Ramos, a resident of West Valley visiting the Name That Flower park in front of the Utah Arts building.  “You go from visitor to participant.”

Ramos was with her parents, in town visiting from Washington State.

“We always come to downtown when we visit Salt Lake,” said Steve Jack, Ramos’ father.  “It is such a unique place.”

Design proposals for the popup parks were due in March.  The selected artists were each given $3,000 for the project and instructed to design a park on an 8 feet x 20 feet platform incorporating landscaping and seating along with elements of art and playfulness.   Each park has a floral arrangement incorporated into the space, to reflect the spring theme.

“I wanted to create a park feel,” said Erik Junge, one of the selected artists.  “My hope is that people will come in, kick their shoes off and sit down or play.”

Junge, a landscape architect with In Bloom Design, created the Toss-Across Park, located on the 100 South block of Main Street in front of the Zion’s Bank. The popup park includes a cornhole game, turf to mimic grass and seating benches made of translucent materials that will illuminate at night.

The Floral Quarrel Park, by the JDHgroup, under the east side of the City Creek Sky Bridge, uses technology to make the space interactive.  The popup park features motion activated spaces that speak to visitors inviting them to linger.  Motion activated lights and interactive buttons illuminate the space to encourage exploration.

The Downtown Garden Stroll is open to the public and runs until Mothers Day on May 10.  Participants are encouraged to take selfies of themselves interacting with the parks and post them on Instagram using the #GardenStrollSLC hashtag.  At the end of the event, one of the pop-up parks will be awarded to the winner of the “selfie contest.”

Audrey Ramos and her daughter at the Name the Flower park.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Audrey Ramos and her daughter at the Name That Flower park. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Toss-Across Park on Main Street.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Erik Junge puts the finishing tosses on the Toss-Across Park on Main Street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Name that Flower park on Main Street.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Name that Flower park on Main Street. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Floral Quarrel Park in front of the City Creek City.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The Floral Quarrel Park in front of the City Creek City. Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Platform Park under the west side of the City Creek Center Sky Bridge.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
Platform Park under the west side of the City Creek Center Sky Bridge. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

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