The General Services Administration (GSA) and Project for Public Spaces are currently partnering on an initiative to improve federal plazas that extend into urban communities in 24 American cities. The partnership has resulted in a free publication titled Achieving Great Federal Public Spaces: A Property Manager’s Guide.
The tools and initiatives developed through this partnership have recently made impacts in cities of Syracuse, NY, and Denver, CO.
In Denver, the Byron G. Rogers Courthouse plaza had become a sterile and inefficient locale during the Timothy McVeigh trial. As part of the plaza’s revitalization, the city added an “ambassador” to assist in directing visitors, as well as new benches and planted flowers. The once hectic waiting area to enter the building’s security checkpoint has been enclosed under a light-filled atrium that now includes a calming water feature.
In Syracuse, The GSA involved the surrounding community for input on upgrades to The Plaza at the James M. Hanley Federal Building, a long-time locale for weekly live music, food and entertainment on summer evenings. The Plaza’s upgrades include an oval green space, as well as benches, picnic tables and improved signage. The new design also incorporates design elements from the nearby, recently upgraded Clinton Square Corridor, creating cohesion between the two spaces.
Incorporating local communities is key to decision-making. “The broader outreach, the better,” says Project for Public Spaces Vice President Cynthia Nitikin. “It’s all sort of also geared toward having these federal buildings or municipal buildings or civic institutions start coalescing into districts and civic centers. This process is really about civic institutions taking a lead once again in helping revitalize communities.”
Achieving Great Federal Public Spaces: A Property Manager’s Guide [PPS Project Experience]
Improve Your Building’s Public Spaces[Buildings Magazine]