How to incorporate elements of quality places into a community

Setting goals within a community for an upcoming year can pose some challenges when deciding how to create a quality place.

July 12, 2016

This figure from the Placemaking Guidebook shows the six elements of quality places.

Setting goals within a community for an upcoming year can pose some challenges when deciding how to create a quality place. The guidebook Placemaking as an Economic Development Tool, by the MSU Land Policy Institute, identifies six characteristic hallmarks of placemaking, which contribute to creating the elements of a quality place. Any community can work to achieve these elements, and use placemaking as a tool to plan to enhance or create more quality places.

The six Elements of Quality Places include: 1) They are easily walkable; 2) contain mixed-use buildings; 3) have creative and functional sidewalk amenities; 4) offer choices in recreation, transportation, housing and entertainment; 5) respects historic structures; and 6) are safe, comfortable, sociable and green. These elements can help create a sense of place, and contribute to a location that attracts people who want to be there. However, some of these elements are hard to add after the fact, and although they can contribute to the quality of a place, things like green and blue spaces (natural green space and bodies of water) may only be assets for places that are already building activities around them.

What is helpful to remember is that these quality places can include both public and private spaces. Common elements of quality places in the public realm often have facets of downtowns and key node streetscapes, including displayed public art or sculptures, regularly programmed sidewalk activities, an aesthetically pleasing design, and pedestrian-oriented, green places to walk, play and sit. These places can include major squares and parks where there is space for recreation, shopping and activities. In addition to these open spaces, public places can include civic centers, aquariums, libraries and municipal halls.

The private realm can include a mix of land uses that provides a variety of retail, residential restaurant and entertainment places for people to live, work and play. This should include a wide range of housing options that fits the needs of all people, protects housing in historic neighborhoods and offers transit-oriented development for key nodes and transit corridors.

To order your free copy and to learn more, visit: Placemaking Guidebook

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