“It is difficult to design a place that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.” – William H. Whyte
All too often, activities and design elements that facilitate public gatherings are disregarded, leaving many public and civic spaces under-utilized. Technically speaking, short-term or continuous public projects in public spaces get people interested in the redevelopment and inspire positive change. This type of approach is also known as “placemaking.”
According to Project for Public Spaces (PPS), “Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, and management of public spaces.” Simply put, it is a people-based approach to managing public spaces through small-scale community projects and events, which brings about immediate positive change and gratification in the community.
The Lyndale Garden Center redevelopment project, which proposes a new sustainable town center in Richfield, Minnesota, is hosting a series of mini community events in the currently vacant site. In the first event of the series, the developer, in partnership with the City of Richfield, hosted a Farmer’s Market event, which consisted of food and crafts vendors, live music, and entertainment for children. The second and most recent event, Winter Market & Festival of Lights (photos), gave the opportunity to local businesses, artists, food trucks, and entertainers, to partake in the festivities. This boosted not only local and community enthusiasm, but also fostered partnerships and economic profit opportunities for local businesses. Both events have proved to be tremendously successful, as demonstrated through high attendance rates and positive reception from the community.
Immediate change, especially on a large scale, is susceptible to failure and skepticism from the community, even more so when it comes to urban planning or redevelopment projects. But, if done in small progressive steps, it can bring out positive change as well as positive reception.
Should "placemaking" be implemented in more conventional forms of planning, especially in new redevelopment projects that are susceptible to large-scale change and criticism from the community?
Credits: Data linked to sources. Photographs by Franklin Adams.