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Project For Public Spaces: The Latest Architecture and News

What Makes a Great Public Place?

This article was originally published by Project for Public Spaces as "What makes a successful place?", a brief guideline about how to develop great public spaces by following four qualities: Sociability, Uses & Activities, Access & Linkages, and Comfort & Image.

Great public spaces are those places where celebrations are held, social and economic exchanges occur, friends run into each other, and cultures mix. They are the “front porches” of our public institutions – libraries, field houses, schools – where we interact with each other and government. When these spaces work well, they serve as the stage for our public lives, but what makes some places succeed while others fail?

Placemaking: Movement, Manifesto, Tool, Buzzword—or What?

Amongst other placemaking-related news this year, the Boston Society of ArchitectsPlacemaking Network celebrated its 10-year anniversary by launching the Placemaking Manifesto in November. Co-authored by Christina Lanzl, Robert Tullis, and Anne-Catrin Schultz, the document set down six key ideas: “quality of life,” “sense of place,” “community identification,” “collaboration and communication” between “individuals of all backgrounds, interests and talents,” “inclusivity” and “greater civic engagement,” and “awareness of tradition with an embracing of new and emerging technologies.” While the basic principles that placemaking espouses are often hard to question, this manifesto in particular begs one question: Is placemaking understood and defined clearly enough for it to be a useful tool for urbanists?

In the past decade or so, placemaking has gained considerable momentum, spewing forth an array of approaches, countless lists of best practices (including, in essence, this new manifesto), and complicated sub-categorizations. It is simultaneously a much-lauded global movement, an academic discipline, a field, discourse, process, and tool, but is also, among other charges, heavily criticized for being an “ill-defined buzzword.”