Placemaking in the Age of COVID-19

rethinking communities during COVID-19The restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 remind us of the vital role public and open spaces play in our overall well-being. The current trajectory of the pandemic suggests that some restrictions will be kept in place for the foreseeable future, so how can we adapt and reclaim public space? The pandemic offers us a unique opportunity to repurpose our streets and open spaces – rethinking how we can make our neighborhoods healthier, resilient, and more sustainable.

Although citizens are taking matters into their own hands through tactical urbanism, local governments and developers are uniquely positioned to leverage this crisis to bring about long-term, positive change in our communities. 

Perhaps one of the most surprising things to arise from the pandemic has been the sharp rise in demand for open, public space. With an understanding that outdoor activities are safer, parks, bike paths, walking trails, and open streets have become safe havens for people everywhere. Some cities have adapted well – reclaiming street spaces for people to safely walk and cycle – while others have implemented regulations focused on keeping people safe at home. As communities across the country struggle with reopening and shutting down aspects of daily life, it’s important for us to consider the long-term role of placemaking in open space and how placemakers can connect communities to what they need.  

We break this down in our guide, Placemaking Done Right. For the next year or two, placemaking, particularly the activation of spaces, will look and feel different than it ever has. That’s why it’s important to go back to basics and think about who is using the spaces, what they need, and what’s most important to them. Odds are, those answers, much like our world today, have changed recently. The guide walks you through a three-step process for defining placemaking for your community.