January 28 2013

Placemaking: Returning a Town Center to Richfield, Minnesota

“It is difficult to design a place that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.” – William H. Whyte

All too often, activities and design elements that facilitate public gatherings are disregarded, leaving many public and civic spaces under-utilized. Technically speaking, short-term or continuous public projects in public spaces get people interested in the redevelopment and inspire positive change. This type of approach is also known as “placemaking.

According to Project for Public Spaces (PPS), “Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, and management of public spaces.” Simply put, it is a people-based approach to managing public spaces through small-scale community projects and events, which brings about immediate positive change and gratification in the community.

Winter Market & Festival of LightsThe Lyndale Garden Center redevelopment project, which proposes a new sustainable town center in Richfield, Minnesota, is hosting a series of mini community events in the currently vacant site. In the first event of the series, the developer, in partnership with the City of Richfield, hosted a Farmer’s Market event, which consisted of food and crafts vendors, live music, and entertainment for children. The second and most recent event, Winter Market & Festival of Lights (photos), gave the opportunity to local businesses, artists, food trucks, and entertainers, to partake in the festivities. This boosted not only local and community enthusiasm, but also fostered partnerships and economic profit opportunities for local businesses. Both events have proved to be tremendously successful, as demonstrated through high attendance rates and positive reception from the community.

Lyndale Gardens Winter Market Performers Lyndale Gardens Winter Market Fire Performer

Immediate change, especially on a large scale, is susceptible to failure and skepticism from the community, even more so when it comes to urban planning or redevelopment projects. But, if done in small progressive steps, it can bring out positive change as well as positive reception.

Should “placemaking” be implemented in more conventional forms of planning, especially in new redevelopment projects that are susceptible to large-scale change and criticism from the community?

Credits: Data linked to sources. Photographs by Franklin Adams.

Jasna Hadzic

Born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but having spent most of her adult life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.; Jasna Hadzic has been greatly influenced by both cultures, most specifically in terms of architecture, planning, and design. The transition of living in a small European pedestrian-oriented city to a large and vehicle-oriented American city greatly influenced her interest in the field of planning. She came to appreciate the vibrant, culturally diverse and faster-pace of life, while also looking toward her native city as a paradigm of sustainable living with traditional architecture, multi-modal transportation systems, and pedestrian-friendly spaces and streets. A recent Master’s graduate in Community and Regional Planning and G.I.S from Iowa State University, Jasna’s Thesis focused on the analysis of the built environment and demographic factors that influence physical activity, while examining street connectivity and infrastructure. In addition, Jasna holds a B.E.D. in Environmental Design, with a minor in Urban Studies, from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Her most recent work experience as a Planning Research Assistant at the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, as well as volunteer work with the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has exposed her to new city projects, as well as community engagement. Her career goal is to not only work directly on sustainable urban design projects, but to also ensure equitable and sustainable planning practices.

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This entry was posted on Monday, January 28th, 2013 at 10:40 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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2 Responses to “Placemaking: Returning a Town Center to Richfield, Minnesota”

  1. Nick Says:

    I think that “place making” should only be widely implemented if community members are involved in the redevelopment of the site or activities that take place on it. This way everybody wins; the community gets to tailor their own public spaces and types of events based on the needs of the neighborhood, and the planners receive ongoing support from the community to implement similar projects.

  2. Jasna Hadzic Says:

    Good point and I very much agree. There are, however, instances when placemaking has to be initiated by private/public sectors in vacant or underutilized areas. In those cases, placemaking serves as a good mechanism for getting the community used to and enthusiastic about the possible future scenario of recreating/redeveloping those abandoned areas into public spaces that will furthermore promote vibrant and healthy lifestyles.

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