Last Thursday, my architecture firm had invited a guest speaker to present his work to us at the wee hour of 9 am. I by opportunity had walked by the seminar room early and so had peeked in to see what all the set-up was about. Learning that it had something to do with urbanism and public spaces, I dipped out of my desk area and into an hour of pure inspiration.
I remember inhaling with absolute delight when our guest speaker began his talk. What serendipity! The speaker was Fred Kent, president of Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a nonprofit planning organization that works with a community’s own people to revitalize and re-urbanize neighborhood centers all over the world. Their mission is to help people create public spaces that give back to their communities and that bring value and local pride to its members.
To PPS, “…Placemaking is a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities of the future.” I listened with both my ears and hands, scribbling away as Kent described PPS’s “Placemaking” approach to programming these spaces. I found their concept of the Power of 10 most exciting: in any city, first find ten destinations that people go to or ten reasons to be there (e.g., cultural museum); near each destination, identify ten places to go to (e.g., coffee shop, movies, bookstore); then at each place, identify ten things to do there (e.g. have a conversation, meet a friend, buy a lotto ticket). If the quota is lacking, then program more of the necessary ingredient. The idea here is that a great place to be should be brimming with activities of all kinds, for all kinds of people.
I could feel purpose in my step as I left the room. I felt invigorated to hear about a group of people so dedicated to improving the quality of life through the same means as mine, and I returned to my work with a different sort of energy boost. That morning’s event was the first inspiration for this blog. Read my studio’s PPS blog here!