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Placemaking approaches public space from a people perspective, based on community needs and programming. As a “placemaker,” you’ll understand the role that community building, economics, sustainability, management, urban design, and landscape design play in creating and maintaining successful public spaces.

A render of Time Square with an urban planning driven redesign with no car lanes and more seating areas.

In the past 15 to 20 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, “placemaking” 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.

The Master of Science (MS) in Urban Placemaking and Management (UPM) prepares professionals for this rapidly growing field. Students learn to create successful, vibrant, equitable, and economically viable public spaces using a bottom-up, community-driven, people-centric approach. The program is for students with professionally oriented undergraduate education, professional degrees, or professional experience in architecture, engineering, environmental or landscape design, urban planning, and related studies, as well as students with a background in geography, social sciences, and management. 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 further gain practical understanding of the planning and design of public space, including management and the integration of the principles of sustainability into public space development.

The core knowledge and skills base of placemaking as a discipline are delivered over four semesters through a combination of lectures, seminars, case studies, and studio-based exercises. Students pursue a curriculum of study structured by four academic knowledge streams: design and infrastructure, economics, planning and policy, and management. The program offers students the flexibility to develop advanced knowledge and skills through electives in a wide variety of topics, both in the UPM program and in the other GCPE disciplines. Students can select specific areas of focus such as:

  • Community-Based Design
  • Parks, Open Space, and Green Infrastructure
  • Transportation and Main Street Management

Students are also free to develop their own area of focus by taking electives in any of the GCPE programs. Graduates are equipped to effectively analyze, manage, and influence the complex process of public-realm design and management.


Students have the opportunity to gain work experience in the field at some of the leading placemaking organizations in New York City.

Research Fellowships

The program provides a few students with the opportunity to do independent research focusing on placemaking. Past fellowship topics include public art and creative placemaking, European placemaking, architecture and place-based theory, place and identity, secret spaces, and placemaking in Southeast Asia.

Studio Culture

The program strengthens students’ skills through two studios where students work individually and in teams. The studios tackle real placemaking challenges and connect students with a project for a business improve­ment district, community-based group, or another organization.

Community-Based Design Concentration

Drawing on Pratt Institute’s rich history in community-based planning, the community-based design concent­ration approaches placemaking from the ground up to study how the built environment affects the health, well-being, and expression of its residents. Classes include Active Design, Public History, and Art and Social Change.

Parks, Open Space, and Green Infrastructure Concentration

Parks, plazas, and open spaces are key components of placemaking as both social spaces and urban connections to nature. In the parks, open space, and green infra-structure concentration, students focus on developing, monitoring, and managing these spaces through inno­vative environmental systems methods. Classes include Open Space and Parks, Managing Coastal Resources, Productive and Performative Landscapes, and Sustainable Urban Agriculture.

Transportation and Main Street Management Concentration

Transit and main streets are the infrastructural foundation of placemaking. In the transportation and main street management concentration, students focus on developing and revitalizing places around public and alternative trans­portation hubs and main streets. Classes include Pedestrian and Bicycle Planning, Transit Equity, Downtown Economic Development, Main Street Revitalization, and Public Security: Design and Debates.

Academic Coordinator
David Burney

Assistant to the Chair
Sandra Hetzel

Tel: 718.399.4340

Two people discuss while sitting next to a table covered in documents and blueprints. There is a computer with a map on its screen resting on the table.

A. Students shall demonstrate both professional competency in the field of placemaking and the ability to independently pursue original thinking and research.

B. Students shall demonstrate a foundational understanding of

  • The history and theory of public space.
  • The professional disciplines and practices involved in creating and maintaining successful public space.
  • The balance of theory and practice, especially with regard to the use of ideas and information.

C. Students shall demonstrate technical proficiency consistent with the highest standards of the profession, including quantitative methods, qualitative methods, and written, oral and graphic communication skills.

D. Students shall demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in planning practice, potentially with a concentration in community development, physical planning, urban sustainability, and historic preservation.

E. Students shall demonstrate collaborative skills, critical thinking, and an ability to lead in an interdisciplinary environment.

F. Students shall exit Pratt as an engaged professional on the path to participate meaningfully in the field; help preserve the environment for generations to come; and foster inclusive planning and just cities.

An architectural blueprint showing a mixed used recreation area in the middle of several city streets.

Upcoming Information Sessions and Open Houses

Banner for a graduate admissions info sessions on Thursday March 9.

March 9, 2023 9:30 AM – 11:00 AM