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Kathy Madden


Kathy Madden is an environmental designer who began working with PPS, helping to found the organization, in 1975. During this time, Kathy was involved in all aspects of the organization’s work, directing over 300 research and urban design projects and training programs throughout the U.S and abroad. Until 2018, she also served as director of PPS’s Placemaking Training and Public Space Research and Publications programs.

Kathy has co-authored and written both books and articles, including the PPS best-selling publication How to Turn a Place Around, which has now been translated into over 10 languages. She has lectured extensively and conducts, in conjunction with other PPS staff, PPS’s semi-annual How to Turn a Place Around training program in New York. While at PPS she taught for six years at the Pratt School of Architecture Graduate Program in Urban Design.

In 1995, Kathy started the Urban Parks Institute with a $2.2 million grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. The Institute brought together over 2,000 parks leaders from both the private and public sectors in eight national conferences and four regional workshops. The Institute produced a volume of research and publications related to urban parks, and created a major online resource center for urban parks best practices and research, Urban Parks Online, which attracts over one million page views annually.

Prior to working at PPS, Kathy worked at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies and at the New York City Parks Department where she conducted an evaluation of park equipment and street furniture.


B.A. Design, Marketing and Advertising, University of Minnesota 

B.F.A. Environmental Design, Parsons School of Design

Selected Professional Presentations and Lectures

“How to Turn a Place Around” GEL Conference, New York, NY, April 2009

“World Cities Summit” National Parks Board, Singapore, June 2008

“The Quality of Density” Third Congress for Israeli Urbanism, Movement for Israeli Urbanism, Tel Aviv, Israel, May 2008

Historic Nutley Preservation Committee, Nutley, NJ, March 2008

21st World Congress, International Federation of Parks and Recreation Administration, Dublin, Ireland, September 2007

Aspen Ideas Festival, Aspen, CO, July 2007

Urban Design Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 2005

Mid South Planning and Zoning Institute, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, April 2005

Experts In Residence Program, Battle Creek, MI, April 2005

Greenspace Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, February 2005

Scottish Executive Committee, Edinburgh, Scotland, February 2005

Great Parks, Great Cities, London, UK, July, 2004

Iowa ASLA Annual Conference, Des Moines, IA, May, 2004

Guest Speakers Series, South Bend, IN, May 2004

Texas ASLA Annual Conference, Dallas, TX, April 2004

International Congress in Management of Urban Parks, Terrassa, Spain, April 2003

Publications and Articles

"Toward An Architecture Of Place," Planetizen Interchange, February 2007

"One Day, Two Paris Parks," Landscape Architecture, February 2006

"Five Ways to a Great Place," Yes! Magazine, Summer 2005

"Five Parks that Need a Turnaround," Projects for Public Spaces 2004

"Public Parks, Private Partners," Project for Public Spaces 2001

"How to Turn a Place Around," Project for Public Spaces 2001

"Creating Places that Work," Planning Commissioners Journal, Summer 2001

"Streets vs. Malls: The Modern Dilemma of Urban Public Spaces," Los Angeles Times, December 4, 1994

"A Cry for Community," Planning Commissioners Journal, Fall 1994

Streetscape: A Guide to the Design and Management of Pedestrian Amenities in Downtowns and Neighborhood Commercial Districts, Project for Public Spaces, Inc., 1987

User Analysis: An Approach to Park Planning and Management, American Society of Landscape Architects, 1983

Film in User Analysis, National Park Service, 1979