Step-by-step Guide

Want to do something to improve a public space in your community? Project for Public Spaces (PPS) recommends the following steps for evaluating a place, making a place plan, and putting it into action. Read on to learn how to use the placemaking process to make your neighborhood a better place.

Getting ready

Step 1: Assess public space challenges

Step 2: Select a site

Step 3: Identify key stakeholders

Evaluating your neighborhood

Step 4: Collect data

Making a place plan

Step 5: Conduct place evaluation workshop

Step 6: Translate the ideas into action with a working group

Step 7: Develop a visual concept plan

Step 8: Create a summary report and presentation

Implementing your place plan

Step 9: Implement short-term actions

Step 10: Develop long-term design and management plans

Step 11: Assess results and replicate

About the step-by-step guide

This guide is written for anyone who has a stake in improving Michigan’s downtowns and neighborhoods. It also is for people who will be managing and coordinating a placemaking process, whether for a small corner, community center, park, street, or an entire neighborhood. It describes the process and steps for developing a placemaking program and engaging citizens from the beginning of the project through its implementation—while also bringing in public, professional and technical resources in a supportive and creative way.

The role of the project leader—or a leadership team—evolves during the course of a placemaking project: at the outset, the leader's main goal is to get people involved and solicit as many ideas as possible. The leader then transitions into a planner, collaborating with a working group and professional resources to put together a program of achievable short- and long-term projects. Once these projects are identified, the leader must oversee their implementation.

Finally, while we have tried to make this guide as clear as possible, we would like to emphasize placemaking is not a rigid process; rather, it can and should be modified. Project for Public Spaces knows from its own work that the process is often adapted to fit into different community circumstances. As you gain experience, you will find ways to make placemaking work better in your community.

The goal of this step-by-step guide is to teach placemaking participants how to:

  • Define the basic elements that create a successful place.
  • Understand the role that successful community places play in neighborhood revitalization.
  • Recognize a successful place.
  • Learn to analyze a specific site.
  • Facilitate groups of local community leaders, residents and designers to work together on improving public spaces.
  • Develop a plan of immediate, short-term, and long-term actions to improve a site.
  • Approach place-related issues or problems differently in the future.