Project for Public Spaces (PPS)

A non-profit, PPS has an international reputation for its work on the design and management of public spaces. PPS' roadway projects have ranged from local streets to state arterials in all parts of the country and in all types of communities. Projects have included simple streetscape improvements, analysis of complex intersections and major thoroughfares, light-rail corridors, mixed vehicle/transit streets, as well as plans for the street environments of entire downtowns and commercial districts. PPS was founded in 1975 to continue the pioneering work of writer-sociologist William H. Whyte. PPS has helped over 1,500 communities in 47 states and 24 countries improve their streets, transit stations, parks, markets, libraries and countless other public spaces. Our multi-faceted Placemaking approach to planning and design is rooted in the communities we serve and the places that are important to them.

Relevance to CSS:

In addition to its broad experience in CSS projects, PPS has developed customized courses on Context-Sensitive Solutions that range from one to five days in length. Starting in 2004, PPS will provide CSS training to New Hampshire DOT and other agency staff over a three-year period, in partnership with Tom Warne and Associates. In 2002, PPS ran a five-day course for the New Jersey Department of Transportation that trained more than 600 of the agency's employees and "customers." PPS ran shorter CSS courses for NYDOT, Wisconsin DOT, and the National Training Institute. PPS offers an approach that looks well "beyond the pavement" to the role that streets and roads can play in enhancing communities and natural environments, and encouraging transportation professionals to collaborate with communities, especially from a placemaking perspective - i.e., with the goal being to leave a better place behind.


Contact Details:
419 Lafayette St. 7th Flr
New York, NY US
At: Office (212) 620 - 5660

Web Site: Gary Toth
More on this site by Project for Public Spaces (PPS) :
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report Balancing Street Space for Pedestrians and Vehicles
The fundamental issue that must be addressed in the redesign of a commercial street is how to allocate its space. "Balancing" spaces is a concept that is used to describe allotting room for pedestrian needs - encouraging a lively, active public space - while at the same time maintaining appropriate vehicular space for deliveries, parking, local access, and through movement. <br><br> Balancing street spaces is both a design and a management problem, because it can be achieved by making physical changes to a street (as by creating a traffic-free mall or widening sidewalks) and by changing regulations, which control street functions. An example of the latter is a street that may be used in different ways during the course of a day: turned over to pedestrians alone from, say, noon until 2 p.m., with full vehicle access permitted the rest of the day. This flexible approach to street improvements requires active day-to-day management to ensure its success.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report Transit-Friendly Streets
Transit-friendly streets are places that "balance" street uses over having any single mode of transportation dominate. In many cases, this means altering a street to make transit use more efficient and convenient, and less so for automobiles - while still accommodating them. When these alterations are done right, a kind of equilibrium is achieved among transit, cars, bicycles, and pedestrians.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report Traffic Calming
Developed in Europe, traffic calming (a direct translation of the German "vekehrsberuhigung") is a system of design and management strategies that aim to balance traffic on streets with other uses. It is founded on the idea that streets should help create and preserve a sense of place, that their purpose is for people to walk, stroll, look, gaze, meet, play, shop and even work alongside cars - but not dominated by them. The tools of traffic calming take a different approach from treating the street only as a conduit for vehicles passing through at the greatest possible speed. They include techniques designed to lessen the impact of motor vehicle traffic by slowing it down, or literally "calming" it. This helps build human-scale places and an environment friendly to people on foot.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report How Transportation and Community Partnerships are Shaping America: Part II: Streets and Roads
The case studies included in this booklet provide tangible examples of how transportation partnerships are beginning to reshape America. The input of those who use and experience a place on a regular basis is essential to the process. Moreover, to address these broader モquality of lifeヤ goals, transportation agencies and communities must work together with an open mind, pool resources, and share responsibility for implementation. For the state DOTs involved in these projects, this approach reflects an evolution in the way these agencies operate. This booklet is a companion to a publication devoted specifically to transit projects.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report Finalizing the Preliminary Community Profile Using &quot;Soft Data&quot; Gathered through Community Involvement
Using soft data and community involvement provides a number of ways to get to know the unique aspects of a community. Basically, soft data is information gathered about the community, its needs, and its values. It might be easiest to define "soft data" by comparing it with "hard data." Hard data is kind of like a layer of bricks, where each brick represents a piece of concrete information, facts and figures. Hard data equates to census data, economics. It gives you a picture of a place at one point in time, and it's not easy to say whether or not you can replicate that data in the future.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Transportation Research Board (TRB)

Article Icon Article / Paper / Report How Transportation and Community Partnerships are Shaping America: Part I: Transit Stops and Stations
This booklet explores how people in communities concerned about livability are working in partnership with transportation agencies on locally-initiated projects and programs to create transportation systems that enhance places.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Article Icon Article / Paper / Report Transit-Friendly Streets: Design and Traffic Management Strategies to Support Livable Communities
This report will be of interest to individuals seeking to improve the livability of their communities and to those concerned with the role that local streets and public transportation can play in pursuing this goal. The report presents 10 strategies used in both the United States and Europe to create transit-friendly streets. The strategies are followed by case studies of five communities that have pursued different initiatives to improve their livability by making their streets more transit-friendly. The report culminates with lessons learned from the case studies. The report is very practical and will be useful to transit professionals, transportation planners, engineers, city officials, and local communities.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Transportation Research Board (TRB)

Book Icon Book How to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public Spaces
How to Turn a Place Around is a friendly, common-sense guide for everyone from community residents to mayors on how to understand and improve the public spaces in their communities.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Book Icon Book Great Corridors, Great Communities: The Quiet Revolution in Transportation Planning
This publication describes a holistic corridor management approach that is transforming the transportation planning process into one that respects and enhances our natural and human environments by considering multiples modes of transportation, adjacent land uses and the connecting street network. This approach allows transportation professionals to seek solutions that are sensitive to community, environmental, land use and financial contexts. When applied at the corridor level, CSS enables DOTs to view roads in their proper context. Some would remain important for high-speed, long-distance trips, but many other roads should be oriented towards local or residential traffic.
--  Project for Public Spaces
Book Icon Book A Citizen’s Guide to Better Streets: How to Engage Your Transportation Agency
<p>This guidebook was developed by Gary Toth and Project for Public Spaces, in partnership with AARP, as a primer to help citizens interact collaboratively with their local or state department of transportation. With the core principles of Placemaking in mind, namely that streets should not only move vehicles but should also serve as gathering places for civic life, the book instructs citizens on the best ways to approach transportation and street-related planning in their community. The Citizen’s Guide provides guidance on how to initiate new projects and shape existing ones; explains the transportation planning process; gives tips on how to work with government bureaucracies; and explores other related topics.</p> <p>The Citizen's Guide is also a great resource for transportation agencies and professionals interested in designing transportation projects that respect and enhance the surrounding community. The full publication can be viewed at the address below, and the chapters on design flexibility, design exceptions, and tort liability are excerpted here. </p>
--  Project for Public Spaces
Case Study
Main Street - Littleton, NH
Littleton, NH
This town of 6,000 serves as a regional center and recently used &quot;placemaking&quot; to develop new concepts with the community and NHDOT for a total reconstruction of Main Street starting in 2005. CSS experiments were used to test the validity and acceptability of potential changes.
New York City, Mulry Square
New York, NY
Sidewalk extensions, reconfigured crosswalks, and additional greening of the area have helped transform this intersection that was known for pedestrian accidents and high-speed turns. Sidewalk extensions were painted on the street in the short term and outlined with temporary bollards to test the impact of the recommendations on traffic flow. Once it was clear that the solutions worked, the project was built out in final form, with slate pavers, granite curbs, new crosswalks, landscaping, bollards, and changes in traffic light phasing. Capital construction was completed in 2001.
Lake Worth, Florida
Lake Worth, FL
&quot;Florida DOT, working with Lake Worth planners, conducted an experiment: using only paint, two principal downtown streets were significantly narrowed to two lanes with the third lane striped for parking. When accident rates fell by over 44 percent during the 1994/95 trial year, a heated discussion ensued--how would they allot the newly gained twelve feet of roadway?&quot;
Springdale, Utah: What's Good for a Park is Good for a Town, Too
Springdale, UT
&quot;Surrounded on three sides by Zion National Park, the town of Springdale, Utah, has long served as the gateway community for the park's visitors ... However, with almost three million visitors every year, by the early 1990s, traffic congestion and illegal parking were taking their toll on the park and its gateway town. The heart of the project is the free shuttle bus system that runs through town, picks up and drops off passengers at parking facilities, hotels and major areas, and ends at a new visitor center located within Zion National Park.&quot;
College/Chapel District - New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, CT
&quot;...College/Chapel District, encompasses two pleasant, people-filled blocks with a lively diversified environment. The traditional look and feel of this downtown area gives the impression that it has existed this way for many, many years. Actually, its condition today is primarily the result of the efforts of one private developer, working in cooperation with the city.&quot;
"In increasing numbers, public agencies are beginning to reach out to communities in order to work collaboratively on programs for improvement. In other instances, it is the community that starts the process, inviting government participation. In either case, the following procedures can help further a community's involvement in understanding and addressing issue of concern, planning for improvements, and working with public agencies to ensure their implementation."

Info tab Icon -- Project for Public Spaces
Getting Back To Place

"To view transportation corridors as catalysts for strengthening community life necessitates.... a more holistic approach, where highway engineers, transit operators, traffic engineers, residents, merchants, property owners, city agencies, planner, architects, an developers as well as community and faith-based organizations, demonstrate that through partnerships they can bring together the traditional safety and mobility goals of transportation agencies and the livability goals of communities."<br> "While collaborative projects may take longer to plan, approvals are streamlined because the goals of the project are clearer, which facilitates permitting and inspection processes, and communities see the benefit to their quality of life and can articulate their support for the project."

Info tab Icon -- Project for Public Spaces
with American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
How Transportation and Community Partnerships are Shaping America: Part I: Transit Stops and Stations

Excerpt IconExcerpt Citizen-Generated Design Plans
In "Citizen-Generated Design Plans," Donal R. Simpson describes a process whereby communities hired their own design professional to help them to develop design plans that "successfully bridge the communications gap between citizens and highway agencies... Independent technical assistance can help the community articulate its desired and positions....define the community values that the road design must respect and protect. It also should deal with the functional requirements of the roadway and propose technical changes or design exceptions required for the road to fit into the community.  more...
from  Community Impact Assessment
Excerpt IconExcerpt Creating Places in Action
"Traffic calming, in partnership with a variety of place making elements can help bolster the livability of many types of urban and town environments. The following examples of cities and towns that have made use of such improvements to successfully rejuvenate declining areas and restore their sense of community represent a variety of geographical and different size locales in the United States." more...
from  Getting Back to Place: Using Streets to Rebuild Communities p.40-47
Excerpt IconExcerpt Placemaking
"Placemaking strives to balance all the users of a street - pedestrians, transit riders, motorists, and bicyclists, rather than on just designing roads to accommodate motor vehicles. The focus is on how these streets and roads connect to the surrounding districts and public spaces and make these areas more economically stable, safe, and productive. The input of those who use and experience a place on a regular basis is essential to the Place-making process." more...
from  How Transportation and Community Partnerships are Shaping America: Part I: Transit Stops and Stations
Excerpt IconExcerpt Creating Places I
"If a street is to become a comfortable, convenient and enjoyable place, it must be looked at holistically, that is, as a distinctive environment with many different interrelated elements reflecting the character, needs and aspirations of a particular community. It is the integration of these elements, including traffic calming, that both improves a street's balance between pedestrians and vehicles and creates a community friendly street environment." more...
from  Getting Back to Place: Using Streets to Rebuild Communities, pp. 17-23
Article Icon Place Evaluation Techniques
Yogi Berra once said: "You can see a lot just by observing." Over the past 27 years, Project for Public Spaces, Inc. (PPS) has applied this idea to its work in making urban public spaces function more effectively for people. By spending time in an area, observing how people use it and asking the people who are there what they like or don't like, it is possible for just about anyone to experience first hand how a place functions. This knowledge then becomes an important tool in determining how specific places can be improved.
--  Project for Public Spaces
"Increased capacity was supposed to ease traffic. Instead, it keeps attracting more cars."

Info tab Icon -- Project for Public Spaces
Getting Back to Place: Using Streets to Rebuild Communities

"... a standard approach to easing traffic is to widen streets and facilitate movement of vehicles, whereas traffic calming looks for ways to marrow them in a manner that eases the comfort and use of both vehicles and pedestrians, as well as bicyclists and other users, with the aim of improving the broader economic and social goals of the community."

Info tab Icon -- Project for Public Spaces
Getting Back to Place: Using Streets to Rebuild Communities

" 'The community' is anyone who has an interest or stake in a particular place. It is made up of the people who live near a particular place (whether they use it or not), own businesses, or work in the area, or attend institutions such as schools and churches there. It also includes elected officials who represent an area and groups that organize activities there, such as a . . . merchants association."

Info tab Icon -- Project for Public Spaces
How to Turn a Place Around: A Handbook for Creating Successful Public Spaces

Website Icon Website Furnishing Your Public Space (opens in a new window)
Learn about the "whys and wherefores" of public-space amenities with this series of features. Each offers design and use guidelines to help lay people and professional designers work with each other. Also included: notable examples of amenities from PPS' image database and, in some cases, information on select manufacturers.
--  Project for Public Spaces

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