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Figure 1

Moving the Practice Forward:

The Virtuous Cycle of Placemaking Organize

Building on Common Elements of Success







Build/host event



Entry point for engagement— community, funders, partners, advocates, city officials, etc.

and the relationships that grow out of

pened in countless other fields in the past

influential. Places grow out of the needs

the “making” are equal to, if not more

decade, with the rise of the Internet. The

and actions of their formational commu-

important than, the places that result.

practice of placemaking has embraced an

nities, and in turn shape the way these

open-source platform which emphasizes

communities behave and grow. Often, a

As a whole, the major trends in

flexibility, embraces impermanence,

new cycle begins once the initial “making”

placemaking point toward a new,

shares information, and draws on un-

is finished—a community might come

“making-focused” paradigm for the

orthodox sources for influence.

together to ensure the place is properly

practice and suggest that successful

The very definition of placemaking has expanded far beyond its roots to encompass a vast arena of physical scales, from town green to district; processes; initiators; and partners. The gradual turn from “what makes a good place?” to “what—and who—makes a good placemaking process?” indicates that an increasingly nuanced understanding of community, political power, and social capital is beginning to permeate the field. Recommendations for framing conversation and action toward greater positive impact within this new framework for practice include:

As the cases in the paper illustrate, the

cultural events to enliven the place on

tive and more interactive. In essence,

relationship of places and their communi-

an ongoing basis. The place is never truly

placemaking has mirrored what has hap-

ties is not linear, but cyclical, and mutually

finished, nor is the community. Mutual

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Disbrow

maintained, or to create a calendar of

placemaking has become more itera-

stewardship of community and place grows from this virtuous cycle, which allows for multiple entry points into the placemaking process, as shown in figure 1. Rather than a cycle where instigators, regulators, and funders enter a linear process in a prescribed order,

Playborhood, Menlo Park, CA

Photo courtesy of Mike Lanza

before “delivering” the product to the community, this model recognizes that placemaking is fluid, can involve multiple points of entry for different collaborators, and that community must be actively involved as a maker, not just a recipient, of a place.

Bryant Park, New York City, NY

cates and makes placemaking relevant

owns placemaking; if placemakers can

beyond the discussion of public space

cast the community net wide, the field

to include community empowerment,

will become more inclusive, and our

capacity, and attachment.

processes and places better.

as those of the place itself in defini-

Enlarge the welcome mat—there is room for many types of “communities”

Look far and wide for placemaking tools that might work

tions and explanations of the field. The

If “placemaking” has been too narrowly

Strategies and tactics used by place-

defined in the past, so too has “com-

makers have expanded and more than

munity.” No one group or constituency

one tactic may be used in the life of a

The Placemaking universe is expanding: Think more broadly about the potential benefits of place and community It’s time for placemakers to speak of the benefits of the process in equal terms

virtuous cycle enlarges the universe of supporters, potential funders, and advo-

Places in the Making: Executive Summary  
Places in the Making: Executive Summary