Urban Placemaking and Management

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In the past 10–12 years there has been a paradigm shift in thinking about planning and urban design, from a primary focus on buildings to a focus on the spaces between buildings—“public space.” Rather than allowing these spaces to be formed as an afterthought of building design, the 40-credit Placemaking program sees the creation of successful public spaces as the starting point, which in turn dictates the siting and design of other components of the urban fabric.

All four programs inside the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment focus on applied research. Through studios, theses, capstones, demonstration projects, research initiatives, partnerships and public programs, students have an opportunity to make an impact. To learn more about our approach and collaborations visit the Research and Impact page.

Placemaking approaches public space from a people perspective—based on community needs and programming. It incorporates a wide variety of professional and technical skills such as community building, economics, sustainability, management, urban design, and landscape design. “Placemakers” need to understand the role that each of these disciplines plays in creating and maintaining successful public spaces and be able to manage the process of placemaking. Case studies of successful public spaces demonstrate the importance of placemaking in supporting successful communities and in the livability and health of a city.

The program is ideal for students with professionally oriented undergraduate education, professional degrees, or professional experience in architecture, engineering, environmental, landscape design, urban planning and related studies. Students are immersed in the core skills of analysis, conceptual design, and management of the public realm in cities. The 40-credit program equips students to qualify for employment in a range of institutional, governmental, nonprofit, and private-sector settings. Students gain a broad theoretical knowledge of the historical, political, and social frameworks with which to conceptualize the public realm, while developing skills to analyze urban space and understand the relationship of public space to public policy and private development. Through studios and internships, students gain further practical understanding of the planning and design of public space, including management and the integration of the principles of sustainability into public-space development.

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