Waterfronts can become vibrant assets to cities by changing how they are used and managed. PPS stresses that the key to a successful waterfront is developing a vision where the layering of activities and uses creates a whole that is “greater than the sum of its uses.” In waterfront projects from Hong Kong to San Diego to Memphis, PPS works to re-integrate waterfronts (many of which have been blocked off by highways, train tracks, or fenced-off industrial facilities) into surrounding neighborhoods.
For many cities, defining a waterfront’s identity can a huge challenge. Some waterfronts, for instance, have become privatized with residential development, while others are limited to one-dimension uses like ball fields or grassy lawns. Many have been converted to highways or other car-oriented uses that bar public access. Since many waterfronts are no longer used for their initial purposes and have fallen into disrepair, any type of development tends to be welcomed. Yet when one particular use is allowed to dominate, the long-term potential of the waterfront is degraded.
Ultimately, to be successful, the spaces along a waterfront need to both be important public spaces in their own right and part of a larger network of community and citywide destinations. To achieve this goal, PPS works with stakeholders along a waterfront to make physical improvements and to engage a wide range of partners in the process. These partnerships create opportunities for recreation, tourism and entertainment that also help to strengthen the local economy. And by extending activities and design elements inland and inviting collaboration among multiple public, private and community organizations, the waterfront’s impact becomes more far reaching than otherwise possible.