AIAHR Pop Up Park: “BLOCK PARTY” Recap
This past weekend, the “Block Party” Pop-Up Park had its opening day in the historic Park Place neighborhood of Norfolk, VA. AIA Hampton Roads volunteers, including myself, transformed the empty site of a former gas station and car wash on 35th Street into a vibrant pocket of community spirit and fun.
The sun was shining, and the atmosphere was filled with music, the smell of delicious Caribbean food, and the joyful buzz of conversation and laughter. The event brought together Park Place residents, volunteers from AIA HR, families, and children to celebrate the neighborhood.
Vendors at the event included AIA Hampton Roads, the City of Norfolk Economic Development, Norfolk 2050, the Elizabeth River Trail, NFK Bike Commuter, and Teens With a Purpose.
The pop-up park was a resounding success and the response from the community was overwhelmingly positive. We received many requests to do similar projects in other neighborhoods/sites. For me, the greatest satisfaction came from seeing people embracing and using the blocks in all the ways we’d hoped. Huge thanks to everyone who came out!
The blocks, stage, canopies, and other elements constructed for the Block Party will remain on the site to host future community events.
What began as an idea for a temporary parklet nine months ago has now blossomed into a semi-permanent community space, playing a role in Park Place’s aspirations for revitalization. The Block Party resulted from countless hours of meetings, design, and production, most of which occurred after work.
For me, this project has been a profound learning opportunity, not just as the lead for design and production, but as a collaborator working alongside a highly dedicated team of volunteer design professionals from AIA HR to bring a shared vision to life. The process we’ve developed from this initiative will be used to create a framework for future community pop-up projects throughout the Hampton Roads area.
Photography: Mario Gandia