COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper: Transform Your Public Spaces Now

May 21, 2012
Dec 14, 2017

A low-cost, high-impact incremental framework for improving your community in short order

Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper

“Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” (LQC) describes a local development strategy that has produced some of the world’s most successful public spaces -- one that is lower risk and lower cost, capitalizing on the creative energy of the community to efficiently generate new uses and revenue for places in transition. It's a phrase we borrowed from Eric Reynolds at Urban Space Management.

LQC can take many forms, requiring varying degrees of time, money, and effort, and the spectrum of interventions should be seen as an iterative means to build lasting change. We often start with Amenities and Public Art, followed by Event and Intervention Projects, which lead to Light Development strategies for long-term change. By championing use over design and capital-intensive construction, LQC interventions strike a balance between providing comfortable spaces for people to enjoy while generating the revenue necessary for maintenance and management.

PPS is working to support communities to create great destinations through the LQC process. Our demonstration projects draw upon local assets and people to transform underutilized urban spaces into exciting laboratories that reward citizens with authentic places and provide a boost to areas in need. These projects provide a powerful means of translating stakeholder visioning into physical reality.

PPS can help implement a wide range of low-cost, high-impact interventions:

LQC Amenities and Public Art

Ranging from flexible seating to book and game kiosks, amenities provide a low-cost means to quickly inject new layers of comfort and activity. Similarly, rotating public art, particularly if it is interactive, can quickly transform a space and provide a unique means for encouraging return visitation.

LQC Amenities & Public Art

San Francisco’s Cannery Row combines flexible, adaptive reuse with in-depth management and programming to become a great public destination. Temporary public art creates a changing identity for a space that compels return visits. The redesign of Bryant Park, one of PPS’s first projects, has resulted in one of the most-used urban parks in the world. It is the flexible amenities that allow the space to evolve and draw visitors again and again.

LQC Events and Intervention Projects

Events provide a creative platform to build momentum, showcase local talent and build new partnerships.  These events can evolve into ongoing interventions that provide experimental means of testing the community vision and adapting design and programming based upon user observation and evaluations.

Streets and sidewalks compose approximately 80% of a city’s public space. Temporary street closures enable communities to envision new possibilities for these often overlooked assets. Reclaimed materials for reclaimed spaces: Shipping pallets create a potluck dinner table under a raised freeway in Brooklyn, N.Y. Creative partnerships: Working with a local landscape store, a temporary park can be created in the middle of the street at no cost.

LQC Light Development

As an alternative to capital-intensive construction, adaptive reuse and temporary structures enable significant transformation with relatively minimal cost. LQC Light Development can transform underutilized spaces and a district’s identity, as well as attract more partners for long-term transformation. Existing buildings can be given a facelift; sheds, shipping containers and tensile structures can enable creative new uses.

Brooklyn’s Pier 1 Pop-Up Park served as an interim low-cost, multiuse destination until a more capital-intensive park was created. Rather than redeveloping, Britain’s Camden Lock painted facades and transformed the ground floors of historic buildings to create a unique attraction. Granville Island, one of Canada’s biggest tourist draws, is also cherished by locals for the authenticity preserved through low-cost of adaptive reuse of former industrial structures.


Identifying Opportunities

PPS works with local stakeholders (often including city staff) to begin building capacity and excitement. Together we identify the potential opportunities, partners, and talent. We help you establish a local task force to shepherd the campaign and implementation.

Action Plan

A short-term action plan becomes a road map for the local task force to use. It often includes resources like amenities, suggested events and event layouts, and can include quick studies for various types of markets.

A medium and long term strategic plan translates the short-term interventions into a more mature vision and becomes a guiding framework for future development and investment. It also becomes a tool to attract additional partners. These plans could encompass:

  • Detailed building and space programs for the medium and long term (“interwhile” uses)
  • Concept drawings and layouts for all key spaces
  • Tenanting and management strategies
  • Future development steps
  • Precedents and benchmarks
  • Guidelines for public and private space design and management
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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space