Networks Northwest

What is Placemaking?

A playground on the beach with children playing

If you start with the idea that you focus on place you can turn that to your advantage and realize that every building, every bench, every tree has an opportunity for helping to create place.
—Fred Kent, Project for Public Places

Placemaking is the act of creating great places! Great places share four characteristics: They are easy to get to; they are safe, clean and attractive; they are full of fun activities, and they are friendly places where people want to be. A space is not a place. Great places act as drivers of economic development, are a source of community pride, and enrich the quality of our lives.

Placemaking involves identifying spaces that need improvement, assessing their current condition, visioning the future condition, and developing action plans to transform public spaces into great places. The focus of placemaking in this Guide is on public spaces. Local governments and citizens have the authority to determine the use and design of public spaces, and therefore are capable of transforming the space into a great place.

Placemaking is a citizen-led, grassroots strategy that fosters partnership with public agencies to fulfill community-envisioned outcomes for public spaces. Examples of public spaces that can become great places are libraries, parks, marinas, public buildings, great vistas, special natural areas, trails, and publicly-owned developable space. Placemaking strategies can be narrowly focused on an intersection or a public park, but can also be focused on an entire community or region. Each strategy will be unique to the community or region’s context and needs.

Watch the video to learn more about placemaking and see examples of placemaking in northern Michigan.