Public Space Boosters: Unmasking Lessons Learned Since 2020

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Certification Maintenance

CM | 0.75

Learning Outcomes

  • Assess opportunities, challenges, and processes in public-realm enhancement projects.
  • Adapt practical design and programmatic strategies to create inclusivity in public spaces.
  • Build the case for public-space investments and their desired economic-development outcomes in order to generate support from internal, external, and political constituents.

Course Details

The past three years provided an opportunity for communities of all sizes to reimagine the public realm. Planners and designers from the Washington, D.C., region discuss transformations that make the public realm more inclusive, dynamic, and economically resilient. Panelists share strategies to support or achieve community goals and discuss some opportunities and hurdles in ideation and realization.

The projects described vary in magnitude, stages, and timeline, and include:

  • A grant program to test and evaluate public space improvements (District of Columbia Office of Planning);
  • Temporary closures and public-space activations that endured beyond early responses to COVID-19 (National Landing BID, City of Alexandria, Prince George’s County); and
  • A multijurisdictional planning effort to improve infrastructure and public spaces for more diverse and equitable use (National Capital Planning Commission).

Examples are from communities with different typologies, development, and jurisdictional contexts: a historic commercial street, a car-centric suburb, a central business district in search of a new identity, the new home of Amazon HQ2, and America’s Main Street.