Meet Us at the Courthouse Pop-up Plaza

Published on August 09, 2016

  • Arlington opens social pop-up plaza

  • Shade, seating

  • Handicapped parking spaces moved to safer location

Building on the momentum of the Envision Courthouse Square community planning process, Arlington County staffers have transformed a sliver of Courthouse Square's parking lot into a pop-up plaza.

"This was a quick, inexpensive way to give the public a sense of the possibilities the community envisions for this parking lot," said Kris Krider, urban design and research supervisor with the County's Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development.

The project began with moving handicapped parking spaces at the 15th Street North entrance to the Courthouse Plaza parking lot to a safer location. The new location, away from the busy drive aisle, meets accessibility requirements. The pop-up then took shape under the shade of the Soldier's tree, planted in 1923 to honor Arlington soldiers who died in World War I.

In just two days, the area was swept and painted, and large, flower-filled pots were put in place as a decorative barrier. Table and chairs were added, and the one-time parking became a welcoming space. An artist will paint a mural on the ground in late August as part of the Courthouse 2.0 project led by Arlington Cultural Affairs.

[caption id="attachment_9053" align="alignright" width="300"]pop-up plaza Courthouse pop-up plaza[/caption]

About pop-ups

Pop-up plazas, or pop-up parks, transform underused spaces into community gathering areas. The Courthouse pop-up is meant to hint at how the large parking lot might look and feel if it were transformed into the public open space called for in the Courthouse Sector Plan Addendum: Courthouse Square.

The addendum calls for the square to be "the social and cultural heart of Arlington," and to serve as "a primary gathering space and activity center for the community." It recommends under-grounding the parking and building a square above it that will boast "a network of interconnected open spaces that can support a wide variety of existing and future programmed and unstructured events."

"We hope that this is just the beginning of what will become a future Courthouse Square and that it takes on a life of its own," said County landscape architect Brett Wallace, creator and organizer of the Courthouse pop-up plaza.