PPS facilitates a visioning process that leads a city and its citizens to develop strategies for creating and sustaining a great waterfront district, through a system of public spaces, streets, cultural destinations, and retail corridors.

The Waterfront Program offers technical assistance and training to municipalities, neighborhood organizations, civic institutions, developers, architects, building managers, and others interested in improving waterfronts and the spaces around them. The main focus is on the physical connection to the waterfront, the public spaces fronting or surrounding the waterfront, and the interface between the water and streets, sidewalks, and privately owned public spaces. Throughout, PPS emphasizes the need to think beyond any one building or public space, and create true interactive waterfront districts through strategic development and partnerships.

Types of Services

Placemaking Workshops

PPS uses its Placemaking approach to facilitate an overall vision that the client can use to guide specific strategies for creating, sustaining or improving a waterfront district full of great places. To develop a vision, PPS starts by conducting workshops that tap into the creativity and resources of potential stakeholders and constituents. These workshops are structured around a participatory process in which issues of concern are identified, solutions from other communities are demonstrated, and community-based ideas for improvement are generated on-site using PPS’s unique Place Game exercise. The process results in a unique local vision for the area. And by building community ownership in the project and identifying resources and support from local institutions, it also provides a forum for the public and private sectors to work together cooperatively on creating useful programs and setting up the groundwork for effective implementation.

Conceptual Development

Working in an open process with municipal agencies, constituents, stakeholders, and partners, PPS creates a detailed concept–for one public space or the entire waterfront –that focuses on what activities will attract people. The product is an intricate program of the uses and activities that will occur in the public space and adjacent areas throughout the waterfront, including specifics about where to locate the activities and how they should relate to each other. The program would be a written description accompanied by conceptual graphics, diagrams, and/or a PowerPoint presentation to various stakeholders.

Conceptual Design

Conceptual design builds on the program of uses and activities, going into greater detail about the layout, character and amenities that will make the program a reality. Elements may include:

  • Destinations;
  • Types of activities and uses;
  • Location of amenities such as seating, lighting, public art, and focal points;
  • Waterfront edge and street treatments;
  • Relationships to existing and new buildings;
  • Circulation patterns and paths.

A conceptual design is not a construction document, but can be used to guide final design and construction documents.

Management Programs

We have learned from over 30 years of experience that management is responsible for 80% of the success of public spaces. PPS assists our clients in developing effective implementation and public space management strategies to sustain the activity, comfort, and safety of waterfronts over the long term.


Contact Fred Kent to develop a plan for your waterfront district.

Waterfronts Planning Services was last modified: March 6th, 2012 by Project for Public Spaces