In February 2015, Ray Lorenzo was officially recognized as an active member of the Placemaking Leadership Council of the Project for Public Spaces (PPS). We are honored and very happy that, in this way, our class and community activities of Placemaking and Learning in Perugia can interact with, and learn from, the vast PPS International Network. Here below, we briefly present the PPS introduction to the fascinating and productive world of Placemaking. Much more will follow!!
Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. It is political due to the nature of place identity. Placemaking is both a process and a philosophy.
The concepts behind placemaking originated in the 1960s, when writers like Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte offered groundbreaking ideas about designing cities that catered to people, not just to cars and shopping centers. Their work focused on the importance of lively neighborhoods and inviting public spaces. Jacobs advocated citizen ownership of streets through the now-famous idea of “eyes on the street.” Whyte emphasized essential elements for creating social life in public spaces.
The term came into use in the 1970s by landscape architects, architects and urban planners to describe the process of creating squares, plazas, parks, streets and waterfronts that will attract people because they are pleasurable or interesting. Landscape often plays an important role in the design process.
The writings of poet Wendell Berry have contributed to an imaginative grasp of place and placemaking, particularly with reference to local ecology and local economy. He writes that, “If what we see and experience, if our country, does not become real in imagination, then it never can become real to us, and we are forever divided from it… Imagination is a particularizing and a local force, native to the ground underfoot.”
Key Principles of Placemaking
The Project for Public Spaces Placemaking approach can be a springboard for community revitalization. Emerging from forty years of practice, our 11 Principles of Placemaking offer guidelines to help communities (1) integrate diverse opinions into a cohesive vision, (2) translate that vision into a plan and program of uses, and (3) ensure the sustainable implementation of the plan. Turning a shared vision into a reality–into a truly great place–means finding the patience to take small steps, to truly listen, and to see what works best in a particular context.
Just as community input is essential to the Placemaking process, it is equally important to have a mutual understanding of the ways in which great places foster successful social networks and benefit multiple stakeholders and initiatives at once. The 11 Principles, along with and other tools we’ve developed for improving places (such as the Power of 10), have helped citizens bring immense changes to their communities–changes that are often far more extensive than the original vision had imagined.