As cities, even countries, move toward a place-based agenda for determining how they will develop in the future, PPS has discovered emerging trends that can improve how we create vibrant, livable cities. Looking back on 2010, we realize just how far the idea of Placemaking has come as a strategy for building great public spaces and communities around the world.

Compiling this list of the Placemaking highlights of 2010 confirmed for us that these ideas have real importance to people in different types of communities, in different styles of public spaces, in different economic settings and in different parts of the world. As the year ahead unfolds, we think these trends will continue at an even greater rate.

Upcoming PPS newsletters will focus on exciting plans for our transformative agendas on markets and transportation, as well as our Digital Placemaking initiative, waterfront developments and a new PPS training course on managing and improving public spaces. We will also continue to revisit our core values, which began with Holly Whyte’s captivating book and film about the importance of getting the details right in the design of public spaces..

And now for the highlights of 2010…

  • Lighter, Quicker Cheaper
  • And the Silos Came Tumbling Down…
  • The Boom in Citizen Activism
  • Return of the Civic Square
  • Placemaking Heard Around the World




Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper

Projects that are generally of smaller scale, can be constructed more quickly than traditional developments and can be done for a smaller amount of capital are catching on as a new way of doing development in public spaces. Eric Reynolds, founder of Urban Space Management in London coined the phrase “lighter, quicker, cheaper” nearly 40 years ago when he implemented an innovative project at the UK’s Camden Lock in London.

Such projects are being implemented in a variety of environments including markets, waterfronts and even on parking lots throughout the world. The results are destinations that grow out of the community in which they are located, creating jobs and a sense of community ownership.

In 2010, PPS hosted two forums that brought together implementers of the idea. Eric’s business partner, Eldon Scott, is promoting the concept in the U.S. with innovative markets in New York, including the Union Square, Madison Square, and Columbus Square holiday markets.

And the Silos Came Tumbling Down…

“The whole earth is in jail and they are planning this incredible jailbreak.” – Legendary Bay Area activist, Wavy Gravy

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to placemaking and community building today is the tendency to define design professions so narrowly that important goals which could make cities more livable are lost. Fortunately, a new trend is emerging in which local governments  realize how much more effective they can be when interacting with a number of different disciplines and implementing changes that reach broader audiences.

One of the outcomes of this kind of “Silo Busting” is a more holistic approach to implementing public spaces and a greater recognition of the convergence that occurs between movements such as preservation, economic development, sustainability and health. For example, transportation is converging with health and community development to promote the health benefits of walking and biking, as well as the benefits of using transportation to build compact community centers.  PPS’ transportation program is  a leader in the Partners for Livable Transportation Solutions that seeks seeks to change the culture of transportation planning in America from a single-minded focus on high speed mobility to a greater focus on  service in which communities view transportation as a logistical means to societal ends.

The Boom in Citizen Activism

There has been an explosion of community-led efforts efforts that represent a new kind of planning – one that is proactive, positive, passionate, practical and provides a new model for the development of public spaces. We’ve seen it happening in places as diverse as Corpus Christi, TX, Buffalo, NY, Annapolis, MD and Tupelo,   MS.


Return of the Civic Square

PPS is excited to announce the opening of four projects in which we were involved that created new gathering spaces in each of the cities: Market Square in Houston; Market Square in Pittsburgh; Main Plaza in San Antonio; and the Perth Cultural Centre in Australia. In each of these places, PPS worked with the communities and stakeholders to create a place-based vision that informed the program and concept plans for the activities taking place. In addition, the Chinatown Summer Nights in Los Angeles, which grew out of a series of PPS workshops, was a catalytic project that kick started improvements for the area


Placemaking Heard Around the World

Placemaking is definitely taking hold internationally. Last year, PPS staff worked in South Korea, South Africa, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bulgaria.


As we look towards the future, we continue to be excited about the range of resources available on We have created our website to be a town square where people can gather to find out what’s new and participate in a powerful exchange of ideas that helps propel the Placemaking movement forward.

We are excited to explore with you ways that the Town Square can evolve in the future. We think we are at a turning point and look forward to your continued support and ideas for making better public spaces.

The High Points of Placemaking: Around the World in 2010 was last modified: March 26th, 2014 by dkitzes