COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

2018: A Year of Transformation and Growth

Dec 21, 2018
Jan 31, 2019
2018: year in Review
2018: A Year in Review. View our full 2018 Impact Report here.

Project for Public Spaces is in a new place in 2018: We moved down the street to our bright new office at 740 Broadway, had an exciting year of transformative projects, and welcomed our new CEO, Phil Myrick. Now, we look toward 2019 with fresh new views and an expanded team of placemakers and partners, ready to bring new energy to the placemaking movement. But as 2018 draws to a close, we’ve reflected on the progress we’ve made this year in our Impact Report, both honoring our history and looking forward to projects ahead.

Honoring Our History

As we carry the placemaking movement forward, our growing team continues to honor the history of PPS, built more than forty years ago by our founders: Fred Kent, who led a small group of out-of-the-box thinkers to become the hub of a global movement for placemaking; Kathy Madden, longtime director of PPS’s education and research efforts and co-author of our landmark publication How to Turn a Place Around; and Steve Davies, the mastermind behind PPS’s public markets program who launched the inaugural International Public Markets Conference in Seattle and Vancouver in 1987.

A Year of Great Places

In its fifth year, the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Program helped amplify the impacts of placemaking projects in past grantee communities with further grants and technical assistance, alongside a brand-new Heart of the Community Cohort Learning Network. The network, first meeting in New Orleans this fall, is a center for exchange between recipients who’ve transformed their communities with the support of the grant. Meanwhile, several new Heart of the Community Program projects launched in 2018, including Duncan Plaza (New Orleans, LA), Kerr Park (Oklahoma City, OK), and Reading Park (Buffalo, NY).

We also kept busy writing this year, developing new resources like the Streets as Places Action Pack, and updating the new edition of the groundbreaking book on placemaking, How to Turn a Place Around. Meanwhile, our work with the Brookings Institution culminated in the launch of the Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking in Washington, DC this November.

This year’s projects had PPS diving into new types of work and getting familiar with new communities, from an interdepartmental training for City officials in Durham, NC to our Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design work restoring community ties in places like Las Vegas, NM. We also partnered up with the MassMutual Foundation, merging placemaking with access to financial resources in underserved communities through the newly launched Live Mutual Project. The Live Mutual Project aims to help level the playing field for low-income communities to create more vibrant, economically sound communities where everyone can thrive.

This past September, Project for Public Spaces convened our biennial Walk Bike Places conference in New Orleans, LA, and in December we partnered with UN-Habitat to convene Placemaking Week Wuhan, marking the launch of a brand-new Chinese Placemaking Network. The placemaking movement at large gained momentum in 2018. PPS staff traveled all over the world, from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Wuhan, China, to keep up with the ever-growing list of global and regional placemaking events.

Looking Forward

The coming year will also bring many new resources and tools for placemakers, including a free online guide to “rightsizing” streets for placemaking and a handbook for Main Street managers on working with Departments of Transportation.

One of the events we’re most looking forward to next year is our 10th International Public Markets Conference, which will take place in London. The event will be co-hosted with the Mayor of London, who recently announced new plans for the city’s vast market network. We have big plans for three full days of workshops, tours, and networking, and look forward to a lively discussion of how markets can drive social and economic impact. And as for our flagship placemaking event—Placemaking Week—we’ll be announcing the next host city in early 2019. Until then, stay tuned!

Thanks for following us on this journey. We wish you all the best in the coming year!

Related Articles & Resources
COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space