On the Front Lines of Equitable Placemaking

What You'll Learn

  • Identify key challenges to managing successful public space in high-need neighborhoods.
  • Convey an understanding of best practices that can be applied to plan and implement public space.
  • Brainstorm new solutions to challenges that impact public space planning, particularly in high-need neighborhoods.

More Course Details

A decade into the transformation of New York City's underused streets to pedestrian plazas, these public spaces are now proven assets that enhance pedestrian safety, livability, economic activity, and civic engagement. They are also proving to be a laboratory for understanding how a public-private partnership framework designed for affluent communities (exemplified by business improvement districts and park conservancies) functions in communities with limited resources and capacities to participate in the same way.

Under NYCDOT's management framework, the city builds plazas while local partners bring them to life, responsible for daily maintenance and producing public events. Because DOT has prioritized high-need neighborhoods for these investments, the plazas are testing the public-private partnership ability to function equitably on a daily basis.

NYCDOT officials share their strategic approach to equipping community stewards to handle the realities of managing public spaces in challenging locations, on small budgets, with limited expertise. The session features stories from front-line placemakers — plaza managers, maintenance crews, and programming partners — illustrating how the right mix of support, shared responsibility, and collective problem-solving is creating a new paradigm for an equitable public realm.