These parklets in Ames were built by Iandscape architecture students in 2013. This year, students are preparing to bring their parklet designs to Des Moines' East Village on Friday. Submitted Photo

For the first time, the Iowa American Society of Landscape Architecture chapter is partnering with Iowa State students to create "parklets" as part of a national day helping to showcase landscape architecture. 

Garret Munch, public relations rep for the Iowa American Society of Landscape Architecture chapter, said there was a desire to do something bigger for National PARK(ing) Day, being celebrated Friday. Other cities on the East and West coasts have been doing larger events since the recognized day started -- this is the 15th year -- to help bring awareness to the need for green space in urban areas. 

While some recognition of the day had taken place within Des Moines firms and at Iowa State, this is the first time the ASLA chapter will partner with Iowa State. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, parklets with various features -- such as seating, vegetation, shade elements, lighting, signage and interactive games -- designed by 30 Iowa State students will be on display in select metered parking spots in the East Village. The event benefits the students and also ASLA, Munch said. 

“They have a really well-known landscape architecture program. … So the initiative is to get students to collaborate with professionals, but also just to let the public know what landscape architecture is,” said Munch, who is also a landscape architecture and visualization designer at Shive-Hattery.

Iowa ASLA has played the role of organizing, finding sponsorships and providing mentorship to the students, who started the design process last week as part of a class for third-year undergraduates in the program. The efforts were coordinated with local businesses and the city of Des Moines. The Historic East Village Neighborhood Association Board is also supporting the event, with six locations planned in a three-block radius.  

“This year we wanted to increase awareness and make it more of an event,” said Carl Rogers, chair of the department of landscape architecture at Iowa State, who added that “it’s beneficial on a number of levels” to give students experience applying design principles and raising awareness about the profession.

The public is invited to check out the parklets and interact with the students who will be there to describe their designs. 

Local landscape architecture and design firms are providing support for the event, including Bolton & Menk, Confluence, Genus Landscape Architects, ISG, RDG Planning & Design, Shive-Hattery, Slingshot Architects and Snyder & Associates. These firms have provided funding for material, as well as reviews for students as they work through the design and construction in Ames.