PPS facilitates a visioning process that leads a city and its staff to strategies for creating and sustaining a great system of public spaces, streets, cultural destinations, and retail corridors in its downtown. Our concern is the public realm, which we define as everything between a person’s home and office. It is essentially the ground floor of a city — making up the bulk of how people experience their community.
Working with stakeholders, businesses, residents, cultural institutions, and the city (and within the context of planning that has already been completed), PPS identifies the key places–building plazas, commercial corridors, parks, and more–that can become the magnets of a downtown. These are the places that will draw people and businesses, leading to the transformation of surrounding districts. We then develop concepts for what activities would attract people to each of the key places and how these activities can support adjacent buildings and commercial uses. Through recommendations for streets and sidewalks, we show how these places can connect to each other, forming a network of downtown public spaces. (“Streetscape” is not a term we use, because it boils the problem and solution down to the over-simplified notion that planting trees and arranging benches will solve a downtown’s problems.) The product of this phase is typically an overall plan of the public space network, communicating the key places and the intricate program of uses and activities that will occur throughout.
Phil Myrick is the Director of PPS’s Downtowns Program.