The Ultimate Guide To Placemaking

the ultimate guide to placemaking

As Realtors, we have a unique opportunity to participate in our community at several levels. Our understanding of the housing market, the needs of the people, and our connection to many adjacent parties are all assets to civic engagement. We have an understanding and a network that spans the worlds of local government and home design, along with numerous charitable opportunities to give back with our hands, heart, and wallets. Placemaking is one of the ways that our roles as professionals and members of our community begin to blur into one. It is an opportunity to leverage our talents and goodwill to create something unifying and lasting. In today's blog, we'll review this relatively new but growing term in city planning, what it is, and how you can get involved.

placemaking defined

Placemaking: Defined

The Project for Public Spaces defines placemaking as "a participatory process for shaping public space that harnesses the ideas and assets of the people who use it." Commonly seen in communities experiencing urban renewal and revitalization, it is an intentional project that intends to create a shared public space to bring people together and keep them active. Placemaking aims to create public spaces that are equal parts accessible, comfortable, safe, welcoming, and allows for authentic human connection.

the four types of placemaking

The Four Types of Placemaking

There are four defined types of placemaking. They each aim to achieve similar goals, but the problems they seek to solve are unique, as are the implementations to solve them. Every form of placemaking seeks to create a vital space for growth and vibrancy in a given area. Below, the four types of placemaking will be defined. 

Standard Placemaking - a somewhat catch-all form of placemaking that seeks to rectify the problem or poorly used or ignored spaces that could be developed into the centerpieces of vibrant, livable, and safe communities that encourage people to live, learn, and play. Standard Placemaking reanimates worn and dilapidated spaces into areas where new investors, stakeholders, and ordinary citizens will engage and take pride in the home.

Strategic Placemaking - strategic placemaking serves the specific purpose of attracting talented workers, businesses, and economic opportunities to a particular area. The revitalization that follows strategic placemaking will ideally lead to a greater commitment from housing and transit corridors, allowing for safer and more convenient access to the area for commuters and contributors to the city's renewal. The influx of successful taxpayers will in turn attract more housing, local businesses, and educational opportunities more deliberately than the broad brush of standard placemaking.

Creative Placemaking - a close cousin to strategic placemaking, creative placemaking is a more direct approach to an outcome rather than creating a platform for opportunity, like standard placemaking. In this case, the desire is to revitalize public spaces by inflecting them with beauty, creativity, and kinetic art. The old saying "life imitates art" is true, and with beauty and a thriving industry of talent to undergird this renewal, the businesses and quality of life in the area will ideally increase.

Tactical Placemaking - this final variety takes a measured approach to test the waters of an area for a standard placemaking type of setup. It usually includes an area with an extensive need for improvement, likely too costly for policymakers and individual investors to make significant moves. Tactical placemaking involves testing several low-cost solutions to gauge their efficacy prior to presenting the result to the powers that be for an official investment.

examples of placemaking

Examples of Placemaking

Placemaking is a definition that encapsulates the intent, and the desired outcome, but not necessarily the physical method of carrying out such a plan. Examples range widely, from simple infrastructural improvements, like carving out a wider bike lane, adding trash cans to a boardwalk, or improving the landscaping in a given area. Larger projects include total remodels of historic sections of a given city, large, public events, or the integration of modern technology, normally involving a major sponsor, such as Google, Tesla, or another big tech player.

how to get started with placemaking

How To Get Started

PlacemakingX, an organization aimed at bridging like-minded people together to inculcate broader change, offers several helpful tips on getting started. Firstly, ensure you have the right mindset for the goals at hand. Do you believe in giving your time for a collective impact? Are you open to other people, places, and cultures? Do you have a talent or skill you can lend, and if not, are you prepared to advocate for change? As Realtors, we can advocate for buyers and sellers, a fundamental understanding of our community, its people, and its shortfalls, and the aptitude to plan alongside adjacent experts, who may specialize more in the implementation, rather than the prospecting and procurement, of available space. Placemaking requires a coalition of multifaceted individuals to give their time, effort, and sometimes their money, to the execution of a greater good that is intended to have a ripple effect throughout your community.

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