Lessons in 'Transformative Placemaking'

Brookings has collected a year of data on an experiment it calls "transformative placemaking," with case studies from up and down the East Coast.

November 26, 2019, 12:00 PM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

f11photo / Shutterstock

"By numerous measures, the Steel City is on the rise. But much of its growth and prosperity are concentrating downtown and in a handful of adjacent neighborhoods, while other neighborhoods—home primarily to people of color and high-poverty households—have yet to feel the lift," according to an article by Jennifer S. Vey and Hanna Love.

The example of Pittsburgh is cited as emblematic of similar dichotomies in other cities around the United States, and the raison d'être for a program established a year ago to address exactly these challenges. Vey and Love explain more:

One year ago this month, Brookings Metro dove into this fray with the establishment of the Bass Center for Transformative Placemaking. The impetus stemmed from the recognition that market disruptions, coupled with changing demographic and household structures, are sharpening the nation’s long-standing spatial divides—and that new sets of place-led policies and practices are essential to bridging them.

A year later, the team at the Bass Center is revealing an "outcome-oriented framework" for transformative placemaking.

The framework—meant to be adapted and refined to reflect community priorities and realities—is designed to provide stakeholders in urban, suburban, and rural areas with a holistic template for creating connected, vibrant, and inclusive communities.

According to the article, three attributes distinguish transformative placemaking from other forms of practice and public relations: scope, scale and level of integration. The article cites examples from Philadelphia, Memphis, and more to show examples of how this framework can be put into practice in different market and political environments.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019 in Brookings

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