Like the famous Supreme Court decision on a certain topic, you know a good public place when you see it. But what is it that makes these spaces work?
The National Building Museum is presenting a series of mini-documentaries identifying these characteristics in what they call Great Green Places. According to the Museum:
By “green” we don’t necessarily mean lush parks (although many of the featured places have successful landscape elements), but sustainable locations that meet five criteria:
- Landscape: a place that is successful uniting site planning and landscape design;
- Mixed Use: a place that demonstrates a variety of retail, housing, and commercial uses;
- Sense of Place: a place that physically embraces its history and culture;
- Streetscape: a place that is pedestrian-friendly with activated public spaces; and
- Transit Options: a place that encourages and supports multiple forms of transportation including subway, bus, and biking.
In one video, Museum curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino visits Washington’s Dupont Circle. The video provides a great overall description of all the factors that make the Circle such a vibrant park — venturing outside the park to describe the synergy created by the array of uses and stores on its perimeter. The video shows what Jane Jacobs called “the ballet” of users of a good public park.
The Museum will be requesting videos from the public later in the program. Perhaps there’s a park or place in your city worth documenting.