New Urban Park Could be a Model for Vacant Lots in Cities Across the U.S.
NewSchool of Architecture and Design alumni and creators of RAD Lab recently opened Quartyard, San Diego’s first urban park, which reclaimed a vacant 30,000-square foot city lot in downtown San Diego.
This new East Village venue opened to an energetic ‘sold out’ crowd who descended onto the park, a concept that began as a student thesis project while the alumni were studying at NewSchool of Architecture & Design. Quartyard is a new destination for San Diego tourists, a venue for local residents and their pets; a place for local businesses to debut their goods, and a new location for entertainers to showcase their talent.
“We believe Quartyard can serve as a model for cities across the U.S. looking for unique economic development ideas,” said NewSchool alumnus and CEO of RAD Lab, Philip Auchettl. “It is a feasible way to temporarily re-invent empty spaces while improving quality of life for residents. We welcome the opportunity to talk to other cities about how this model can work for them.”
Quartyard demonstrates how positive changes can quickly and economically activate an empty lot into a thriving interactive urban park. This public space is the culmination of work led by the RAD Lab team in collaboration with NewSchool faculty, the City of San Diego and private sector advisors who had the foresight to see the project’s potential. Quartyard was also partially funded by San Diego residents via a Kickstarter campaign that generated $60,000 in just 30 days.
“We encourage our architecture students to think about how their ideas can improve both their local communities and the larger environment, something often referred to as Glocalism — a mix of the local and the global,” said Chuck Crawford, NewSchool Associate Professor and Graduate Coordinator who worked with the RAD Lab team during their Quartyard thesis project. “In this case, the students reached out to the Office of the Mayor, City Councilman Todd Gloria, and the local review board, along with developers and local business leaders. We applaud RAD Lab for looking upon this vacant lot as an opportunity to extend lessons learned in the classroom to the city as a whole. It is the type of thinking we try to nurture at NewSchool as we move beyond the simple notion of sustainability as things like solar panels, and attempt to instill both a social consciousness and entrepreneurial innovation as a cornerstone of professional responsibility and ethics.”
As part of their thesis work, the creators of Quartyard discovered that historically vacant lots are often times waiting for development by owners of the property or the city, absent immediate intentions and sometimes funding for development. In many cases, vacant lots have blighted their surroundings and dragged down property values. The Quartyard has a conditional use permit from the City of San Diego, offering a variety of amenities including restaurants, retail, and a dog park. Quartyard serves as a dynamic venue with live music and a rotating local entertainment line-up, at the center lies a craft beer garden.
The RAD Lab team is comprised of Philip Auchettl, David Loewenstein and Jason Grauten, all from the 2013 NewSchool graduating class. Quartyard is located at 1102 Market St., San Diego, CA 92101. See hours of operation and activity schedule by visiting Quartyard. Learn more about RAD Lab www.radlabsd.com. Learn more about NewSchool at www.newschoolarch.edu.