Imagined outdoor seating at Richmond area restaurant Perlys

As the City of Richmond, Va., reopens, AIA Richmond and Venture Richmond have joined forces to support local restaurants with a program called “Picnic in a Parklet.” This joint enterprise with the City of Richmond offers design and permitting assistance to create parklets — outdoor, physically-distanced seating in street parking areas.

“Transforming our use of public space innovatively and sustainably requires partnerships just like this one,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “By linking the business and design communities, this program will expand the city’s growing network of creatively designed public spaces.”

Business-owners who are interested in temporarily converting an on-street parking space adjacent to their storefront into parklets will work with Venture Richmond to assess their needs and navigate the permitting process. AIA Richmond will connect that business with an architect for pro-bono design services for parklets.

inflatable tubes define physically-distanced seating areas in parklets
Inflatable tubes help define this outdoor seating space concept. They’re highly visible to vehicle traffic. Image courtesy of Venture Richmond, AIA Richmond and HKS.

“We think creatively. We’re problem solvers … and this is one of the many ways we thought of to give back to our community,” said AIA Richmond president, Nick Cooper. “We hope each design team will respond to the historical fabric of the neighborhood,” he continues. “Richmond is composed of distinctively different neighborhoods that all have a certain character, and we imagine these parklets to be an extension of that.”

Unless otherwise specified or revoked, parklet permits are valid for three years and all requests within Richmond City limits will be considered. Business owners can learn more and apply for support at the RVA Strong website.

fabric mesh and scaffolding help define parklet seating
Fabric mesh and repurposed scaffolding could help define parklet seating areas. Image courtesy of AIA Richmond, Venture Richmond, and HKS.