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How to Turn a Place Around

ISBN-13: 978-0970632401
ISBN-10: 0970632401
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Editorial Reviews


"...The people involved in the design and development within cities,...are thinking about all other facets of design, except for what makes a great place." -- Joseph P. Riley, Mayor, Charlston, South Carolina

"This book goes a long way toward not only proving why, but showing how great places make great cities. We’ve ordered hundreds for our field officers.” -- Robert Peck, Commissioner, Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration

...PPS demonstrates that, with an understanding of how a place works, any place can be "turned around." -- Kathy Madden

People who read this handbook will learn how to create better public spaces in their own communities... -- Fred Kent

“This book is full of real examples of building and renovation projects that succeeded because the communities were involved from the outset.” -- Douglas Durst, President, The Durst Organization, member PPS Board of Directors

“This book should be used as a primer for transportation officials to understand all the different elements that go into making a town or city livable.” -- John C. Horsley, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

About the Author

The year 2000 marked Project for Public Spaces’ 25th anniversary as a nonprofit technical assistance, research and educational organization. PPS’s mission, to create and sustain public places that build communities, is achieved through programs in transportation, parks, plazas and civic squares, public markets, and community institutions and public buildings. Since PPS’s founding in 1975, the organization has worked in over 1,000 communities, within the U.S. and abroad, to help grow their public spaces into vital community places.

PPS' Approach

PPS helps accomplish these changes through a community/place-based approach to planning and decision-making that we have developed and broadened in the 25 years since our organization evolved from William H. Whyte’s Street Life Project. This approach involves looking at, listening to and asking questions of the people in a community about their needs and aspirations. We work with them to create a vision around the places they view as important to community life and to their daily experience; and we help them implement their ideas beginning with small scale, doable improvements that can be phased in quickly and immediately begin to benefit a community.

This process is carried out with such tools as systematic on-site observations, time-lapse filming, customized interviews and user surveys, that allow us to go out to people in the places where they live, work and congregate to gather their input, document and analyze their activities, and reach those who otherwise might not participate in an improvement effort. The process also includes facilitated public forums, workshops, meetings and committees that give people an opportunity from the effort’s outset to identify issues, contribute ideas and make decisions about improvements that can holistically address their manifold concerns and enhance the places where they live and work. Using this approach, we are able to help rebuild communities both in spirit and as places.

PPS Initiatives

PPS’s "place-making" mission is reinforced on a broader level through three major programs: the Urban Parks Institute, an initiative to educate and involve people and promote public/private cooperation in improving urban parks through research, conferences, workshops, a web site, a newsletter and training sessions; the Public Market Collaborative, created by PPS in 1987 to further the preservation and establishment of public markets and to assist communities in market development, design and operations through technical assistance, an international market conference, publications, classes and forums; and Building Livable Communities through Transportation, an effort to advance the community building capacity of transportation, through workshops, an exchange program, educational outreach, research, information dissemination, policy discussion and demonstration projects.


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