Bike lot closes to create space for the expansion of Papermaker’s Garden
Columbia’s bike lot officially closed Aug. 2 to accommodate the expansion of the student-run Papermaker’s Garden, 750 S. Wabash Ave., a site where plants are grown that can be used as fibers and materials for hand papermaking.
The garden opened in June 2012 with five plant beds. After the expansion, due for completion by Sept. 18, there will be room for 18 beds, according to Melissa Potter, assistant professor and program director of the Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts MFA Program.
“The garden is expanding so it is not just a place where hand papermaking is going to take place but also a place where gardening is a form of community involvement,” Potter said.
To increase community participation, expansion design plans will designate an area for live performances, Potter said.
The expansion will also provide opportunities for other Columbia classes and departments to plant and run programs in the garden if they wish, she added.
“The garden is intended to be a space where we can grow plants and where we can engage with the
rest of the school,” Potter said. “I think ‘interdisciplinary’ is a great word to describe what we’re doing.”
According to Alicia Berg, vice president of Campus Environment, money for the expansion is coming from college funds, although she declined to specify which funds or how much.
To replace the lost bicycle parking, the college is working with the city to install bike racks around the campus, Berg said.
As reported October 10, 2011, by The Chronicle, the bike lot was underutilized when it first opened.
The space could accommodate 125-150 bikes, but it often only contained a few, according to April Sheridan, studio technician and special projects coordinator for the Center for Book and Paper Arts.
“The lot wasn’t as heavily used as the college expected,” Sheridan said. “I parked there sometimes and was the only bike there. It’s the same with everything else on campus: If you don’t use it, then you might lose it.”
According to Alex Borgen, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary MFA Book and Paper Arts Program and founder of the Papermaker’s Garden, the bike lot and the Papermaker’s Garden were put in the same space because the Center wanted to start small as a pilot.
The Center for Book and Paper Arts always planned to find a larger space and expand the garden at a later date if it proved successful, Borgen added.
The original expansion plan was to incorporate the bike lot into the garden’s space, Potter said.
However, administrators decided not to include the bike lot, leaving the college’s population of bikers with no campus-owned facility to park their rides, Borgen said.
“It sucks that the bike lot closed down,” junior audio arts and acoustics major Nick Patel said. “It’s probably going to be a pain to find a place to park my bike. All of the bike racks around the Loop area are always full because there are only like two.”
No bicycles were still parked in the lot when it officially closed Aug. 2, Berg said.
“I think that there are opportunities for the students to talk to the school and to show that they are a critical mass and get the support that they need to have safe places for their bikes,” Potter said.
Located at the corner of Wabash Avenue and 8th Street, the garden is the center of the Wabash Arts Corridor initiative, a plan to cover the stretch of Wabash Avenue between Congress and Roosevelt with public art from the college.
According to Potter, the garden is going to be a major part of this year’s WAC Crawl Sept. 18.
Berg would not disclose what events will take place in the garden during the WAC Crawl, but she said there would be members of the Center for Book and Paper Arts there to lead an activity and describe uses for the Papermaker’s Garden.