July 1, 2013

Recipe for revitalizing public spaces

How do you deal with an urban space that's "become known for petty crime, drugs, and homelessness"? That was the issue facing an area of Boston Common of Park and Tremont streets. In Brewer Plaza, Reborn, the Boston Globe's Renee Loth outlines how now visitors are flocking to the area to enjoy this "outdoor living room," thanks to work by both the city of Boston and non-profit Friends of the Public Garden.

The recipe for success "is a case study in what makes some public spaces work and others wither," Loth writes. Among the ingredients?

* Not trying to get rid of unsavory characters but "figuring out a way to flood the area with the people you do want there," former project manager Ted Furst told Loth.

* Renovating a fountain, improving landscaping and lighting -- things that the short-sighted view as frills but are absolutely essential to creating an appealing public space.

* Movable furniture, allowing people to decide how to group the seating and whether it's in sun or shade.

* Programming entertainment and attracting food trucks.

If you're at all interested in maximizing the potential of public space, this piece is well worth a read.

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