On September 15, 2017, Vanderbilt University participated in Nashville's annual Park(ing) Day, part of a national event in which community organizations design pop-up parks in paved parking spaces in order to temporarily beautify and activate the space. While most of the Park(ing) Day participants were on Lower Broadway downtown, where they reserved parallel parking spots over the course of the day, Vanderbilt's design filled the space of 17 parking spaces in an employee lot. It featured custom-welded hammock stands, a fountain, green spaces, information about the participatory campus planning process, and an ice cream truck. The design won Vanderbilt a Golden Cone Award for its "wow factor" from the Nashville Civic Design Center.
Although the pop-up park was located on the outskirts of campus, the project integrated educational spaces with outdoor garden spaces, temporarily dissolving the boundaries between office or classroom and campus arboretum. The design raised questions about the bifurcation of spaces of knowledge work and bodily awareness or inhabitation: why are offices and classrooms (like parking lots) so often disembodied and devoid of life? What would it mean to create pop-up parklets within these spaces, to use them as opportunities to cultivate life?