The Kickstand and creative placemaking

A before picture

A before picture

The birth of the Kickstand

Over a year ago we designed a popup mini-park installed on Langdon Street in Montpelier, VT to provide a much needed gathering space along a narrow downtown street frontage. Part of the arts based creative placemaking project, Langdon Street Alive, we won a small commission to design a seasonal small outdoor seating area to liven up a sunny corner of a building with a flourishing bike and outdoor sports shop and its busy parking lot. 

Designing for the in between

What's curious about projects like the greater Langdon Street Alive initiative and The Kickstand specifically is a lack of a road map to follow for streetscape improvements.  Not exactly architecture, landscape architecture, or urban design, designing for the in between is all of that and none at the same time. Perhaps that's why Creative Placemaking has risen to best describe projects like these increasingly popping up around the country, in downtowns, brownfields, with new programming, arts and culture based initiatives and more. 

Creative Placemaking is an evolving field of practice that intentionally leverages the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community’s interest while driving a broader agenda for change, growth and transformation in a way that also builds character and quality of placev
— NEA Creative Placemaking Report, 2016, Gadwa & Markusen

Creative placemaking focuses on activities whose end result lies in helping transform communities, the quality and character of their places, while often building capacity for growth, economic development and oppourtunity.  The Kickstand is an example writ small of such place shaping and capacity building. 

The design

The design includes two small seating areas backed by a long embracing bench fronted by stump seating and tables with canopies overhead.  To help build capacity for bike parking, an existing bike rack was relocated to the raised area to the west of the seating area.  Recycled steel brake drums were used for planters to anchor the thin end of the Kickstand. Splayed 1/2 metal rods form the screen wall which provides a little bit of solidity while helping create safety visibility from the street through into the parking lot. (A local police department requirement)

Ground Plan of the Kickstand     

Ground Plan of the Kickstand     

View from within Landgon Street looking towards The Kickstand

View from within Landgon Street looking towards The Kickstand

Design visualization showing the basic elements

Overall view from Landgon Street looking back towards the Kickstand

Thanks

Thanks to design collaborators including Rogen Design Build, Ward Joyce Design and David Frey who came up with The Kickstand name.  Rogen Design Build collaborated with us to do a design build version of the original idea which in our estimation tremendously improved upon it. Using local Hemlock milled from Fontaine's Sawmill the design build team crafted the project over the course of a couple of weekends with some fine tuning over the course of the summer.