The concept of placemaking in the U.S. and internationally is not new.The PPS (Project for Public Spaces) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces. “Placemaking gained traction in the 1960’s, when PPS mentors like Jane Jacobs and William H. Whyte introduced groundbreaking ideas about designing cities for people, not just cars and shopping centers. Their work focuses on the social and cultural importance of lively neighborhoods and inviting public spaces.”
-What Is Placemaking?” Project for Public Spaces, 2018, www.pps.org/article/what-is....
Dunedin’s downtown revitalization began in the late 1980’s with the realignment of State Road 580 to Skinner Blvd. This gave the City the ability to create “placemaking space”. Without this realignment the City would not have been allowed to change parking, create traffic calming and to add planters and brick crosswalks which are all vital to placemaking.
above right: People enjoying the Pinellas Trail and the Dunedin History Museum
Future work is being planned to connect downtown to the waterfront across U.S. Alt 19 (another state-controlled road). Ferry service was implemented to the marina this year which brings people back and forth to Clearwater and its beach community.
Today SR580 on Skinner Blvd. is being reduced from 45 MPH to 30MPH and will feature traffic calming roundabout intersections designed to make the pedestrian crossing of SR580 safer.
above left; New entry and gift shop at the Dunedin History Museum
above right: Dunedin's downtown Farmers Market
above: Downtown art festival
The people who live in the community are the assets needed to begin a placemaking project. They are stakeholders that can provide insight of history and what is meaningful to them now and in the future. Give them ownership in the project. Public officials, citizens, institutions, museums, schools, architects and developers can together connect needs with realities, thereby creating a vision. Surveys are critical. Ask questions. Don’t assume.
The vision for growth and revitalization should be unique to each individual community. This includes an emphasis not only on what kind of activities occur in the space, what makes it comfortable and what makes it important as a source of pride to the people who live and work there, but how to incorporate those social factors into the urban planning process. When professionals such as traffic engineers, transit operators, urban planners and architects can create an integral, overarching vision to an urban project and the character of its stakeholders, placemaking has a much greater chance to succeed.
Create a Place, Not a Design
Begin with a warm welcome. Pedestrian friendly streets with relationships between retail and other activities, landscaping, public art, seating and small, park - like areas can bring citizens and visitors into comfortable contact. Architecture should somehow reflect the ‘flavor’ of the place as well as fitting the needs of people.
You Are Never Finished
Great public spaces are built as a result of the flexibility to enact well informed change. Public officials, architects and other professional planners must be responsive to changes in demographics, tastes, interests, communications technology, and a variety of other factors that drive successful urbanization. We can look at the City of Dunedin and see a positive example of placemaking, linking parts of the community with a burgeoning downtown core. Many challenges await as our city strives to reinvent itself as one place.
The future of placemaking is an exciting topic, a place where social anthropologists team up with architects, planners, developers and engineers in advanced environmental, water, renewable energy, construction, transportation and communications infrastructures, as part of an expansive master plan for a community – a plan uniquely tailored for the people who live, work and visit there.