New research released today from the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning explores the current state of placemaking and offers some exciting insights into what is happening in the field, as well as recommendations for moving forward. My research team delved into the literature, looked at ten case studies from across the country, and interviewed over 100 practitioners, community members and leaders in the field. So what’s the key takeaway? The paper, entitled Places in the Making, highlights the importance of the “making” process in placemaking:
“…the most successful placemaking initiatives transcend the “place” to forefront the “making.” …The importance of process over product in today’s placemaking is a key point that cannot be overstated – and it is pushing the practice to a broader audience and widening its potential impact. The recent resurgence of temporary, event-based, and tactical initiatives celebrates community process, deliberative discussion and collaboration with a lesser focus on the production of space. While there are myriad definitions for placemaking, we stress placemaking’s empowerment of community through the “making” process.”
I am excited about the broader implications here. The discussion of physical characteristics of place in tandem with the creation of social capital and the empowerment of communities is powerful stuff. Speaking of the physical “place” without the “making” process and it is benefits for community misses half the story and perhaps half the potential audience. In the weeks leading up to today’s paper release, I have been part of some exciting conversations about how the inclusion of making and community empowerment enlarges the placemaking tent. ….Looking forward to the conversations that occur in that tent.
You can view and download Places in the Making: How Placemaking Builds Places and Communities at: http://dusp.mit.edu/cdd/project/placemaking.
And thanks to Southwest Airlines for supporting the research!
Photo of Bryant Park courtesy of: Rebecca Disbrow