What makes a place a place?

What makes a place a place?

You may have heard of a concept called “placemaking.” While it sounds like a trendy, made-up word, it’s actually the ultimate foundation of the White Flint Sector Plan. No doubt you’re eager to learn more … (And let’s face it; outside it’s single digits with a real snowstorm on the way, so what else are you going to do?) … so here’s a quick Friends of White Flint primer on placemaking.


According to Wikipedia, placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.  According to your fearless leader of Friends of White Flint, placemaking is, quite simply, how the physical parts of an area — buildings, parks, paths, etc. — and the people who live, work, and play there create that lovely, warm, fuzzy feeling of community.

Placemaking isn’t just tossing together a square of green grass, sidewalk cafe, and apartment building and calling it a neighborhood.  Placemaking is about creating a Quality Place, a space where, according to Better Cities and Towns,  “people, businesses, and institutions want to be. Such places often are alluring; they have pizzazz.”

Placemaking, says the Project for Public Spaces, shows “planners, designers, and engineers how to move beyond their habit of looking at communities through the narrow lens of single-minded goals or rigid professional disciplines. … Experience has shown us that when developers and planners welcome as much grassroots involvement as possible, they spare themselves a lot of headaches. Common problems like traffic-dominated streets, little-used parks, and isolated, underperforming development projects can be avoided by embracing the Placemaking perspective that views a place in its entirety, rather than zeroing in on isolated fragments of the whole.”

Isn’t that what Friends of White Flint is truly about? Residents, homeowner associations, businesses, government planners, and developers collaborating to revitalize our community, turning aging strip malls and acres of asphalt into our place.

We’ll be writing more about placemaking over the coming weeks, but if you just can’t wait, here are a two links you may find interesting.



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Amy Ginsburg


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