The public realm, which is essentially the ground floor of a city, is how people experience their community. Placemaking builds on this experience by starting from the premise that successful downtowns are made up of lively and distinctive destinations, or places, where the many functions of community life take place, and where people feel a sense of ownership and connectedness. Destinations can be located along commercial and residential streets, within parks and squares, along waterfronts, or in plazas around civic buildings and cultural institutions. Equally important is how these destinations connect with and support one another and how to avoid having them function in isolation outside the downtown core.
PPS works with communities not only to improve existing destinations but also to establish new ones. A great downtown should have at least ten destinations, each of which is made vibrant by clustering a variety of different uses and activities together. This idea, which we call “The Power of Ten,” is a framework for communities to use as they think about their downtown and what it could become.
PPS uses a Placemaking approach in working with cities to develop strategies for creating a series of public spaces throughout the downtown. Plazas, commercial corridors, parks, and more can all become downtown anchors, drawing in people and businesses and transforming the districts that surround them.
PPS convenes stakeholders to identify key places and evaluate and develop a vision for each potential destination. Concepts for the types of activities that would attract people to each of the key places and how these activities can support adjacent buildings and commercial uses are an essential part of the vision. Through recommendations for streets and sidewalks, we show how these places can connect to each other, forming a network of downtown public spaces. The product is typically an overall plan for a downtown public space network which outlines the key places and the intricate program of uses and activities that will occur in them.