Take Back the Public Realm
Thursday, October 25, 2018
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. CDT
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Investments in the public realm play a vital role in catalyzing investment, promoting valuable places, and shaping the identity of our cities. Historically, planners played a lead role in the design of our public realm, but that has been eroded over time by other professions. How can planners be more of an authority on the design of our public realm?
Cities invest millions of dollars annually in the public realm, whether through capital investments or in association with developer-funded projects. In most cities, the public realm encompasses between 20% and 30% of its land mass. Planners often focus attention to the design of many incremental and disjointed projects in the private realm as we try to shape our communities for the better. However we typically ignore the one-quarter to one-third of our cities that we should have the most direct design influence over our public realm.
If planners are to regain a key role in the design of our public realm, we must understand three crucial concepts:
1. How planners and planning commissions have the statutory authority to plan and design our public realm.
2. What planning and urban design techniques create great places and build value - and more importantly, where these fundamental principles are city-building are being undermined by special interests and misguided priorities.
3. How to navigate complex discussions and filter the perspectives and expertise of other professions dealing with investments in the public realm.
Robert Whitman, AICP
Graham Smith, AICP
Bonnie Johnson, email@example.com