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Crowdsourced Placemaking: How to Build an Enthusiastic Community to Attract Investment for Developing Extraordinary Places

January 23, 2012

Speaker: Neil Takemoto, Founder and CEO of CoolTown Beta Communities

Neil Takemoto has a mission that he hopes other people and places will adopt. Here’s how he says it: “You know your city deserves better. You know others do too, a lot of them. You all wonder to yourselves... ‘if only it had a downtown that looked this beautiful and elegant, with these kinds of cool local businesses, with this kind of housing that people could actually afford’... it's time to gather those forward-thinking individuals together as a campaign community and partner with a development and investment team. Only this time, that development and investment team is willing to implement your group's vision once you prove there's a feasible market for it. Welcome to crowdsourced placemaking, and it's already happening in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York.” As for the planning, urban design and architecture professions, it's a return to pedestrian-oriented, human-scaled downtowns centered around activity-filled plazas, but with a contemporary vibe. Why? Because that's what the crowd wants, the 99% that didn't have a say in placemaking in the recent past. This session was hosted via video conferencing.

See the article on Neil's work at Bristol CT, and

View the presentation recording online:



Placemaking Policy for Gateway Cities

February 27, 2012

Speaker: Benjamin Forman, Research Director, MassINC

Reinventing small, older industrial cities for the 21st century requires sizeable public intervention. But these so-called 'gateway' cities lack the political capital to draw sufficient public investment. Ben Forman described new placemaking policy opportunities around which effective political alliances can be built. The coalition-building strategies, which span a range of policy areas, provide design leaders with new openings to envision a radically different future for these vital urban centers.


Peaceful Places: Boston

March 26, 2012

Seminar and book signing with Lynn K. Schweikart, author of Peaceful Places Boston

Author Lynn K. Schweikart spoke about her new book, Peaceful Places Boston: 120 Tranquil Sites in the City and Beyond, newly published by Menasha Ridge Press. The fifth in a new series, with each book set in a U.S. metropolis, the Boston edition leads the reader on an unexpected path to secret delights and is a guidebook for everyone who yearns for special and contemplative places amidst the urban hubbub. Lynn has researched over 120 tranquil oases in and around Boston and her book entices us with enchanting walks, historic sites, museums and galleries, outdoor habitats, parks and gardens, quiet tables, spiritual enclaves, inspiring vistas, and urban surprises. In addition to showing some of those places she has identified, Lynn offered her thoughts about the nature of peaceful places and the characteristics that make places contemplative, tranquil, and special. Copies of the book were available for purchase and signing after the seminar, and more than half the audience bought one! Get yours here:

Esplanade 2020 - Project Update
April 23, 2012
Speakers: John Shields FAIA, Shields Design
and Sylvia Salas, The Esplanade Association
The Charles River Esplanade ranks among the Commonwealth’s greatest assets. It lies at the center of a network of parks planned by landscape architect Charles Eliot in the 1890s—indeed, he called the Esplanade the system’s “crown jewel.” More than a century later, however, the jewel has lost its sparkle. A lack of resources, deferred maintenance, and extraordinary popularity have degraded the park’s paths, landscape, and beautiful original structures. The Esplanade has been “loved to death.” Although several studies have identified some of the park’s biggest problems, a broad vision for its future has never emerged. Until now.
The Esplanade Association has recently published their Esplanade 2020 Final Report outlining that vision. John and Sylvia Salas offered an update on their efforts to restore and revitalize this jewel, and reviewed the report’s guiding principles and clearly defined objectives for the park's future.  They showed a narrated slideshow and distributed a copy of the 99 page 11 x 17 document.  Both are wonderful and very well thought out.  They show how the integration of Placemaking concerns and principles into the Espalnade Association's approach will transform Boston's waterside park into one of the world's greatest outdoor urban places. The Esplanade Association is to be congratulated for skillfully setting a clear vision.  Please view the slideshow and the document by following these links:
Esplande 2020 Presentation:
Designing Cities at their Water's Edge
June 25, 2012
Speaker:   Stanton Eckstut, Principal, EE&K- a Perkins Eastman Company
Rather than parks and esplanades only, the creation (or re-creation) of real streets at the water's edge might sometimes be more appropriate in city revitalization efforts. They would represent a return to the wharf activity that once lined the edges of most great waterfront cities and possibly be a more realistic way of attracting necessary private development and public activity. Stanton Eckstut, EE&K’s (Ehrenkrantz Eckstut and Kohn) senior principal, discussed recent efforts along the waterfront, talked about why vibrant retail ground floors are needed there but are difficult to achieve without street activity and a real city edge, and discussed how land uses along the water might be best determined by the marketplace.
Stanton Eckstut has a national reputation as an innovator and leader in large-scale architecture extending back over thirty years to his pioneering work designing the master plan for Battery Park City. Stan’s singular understanding of architecture as a practice that creates and sustains the public realm is evident in all his designs, from large-scale waterfront developments and intermodal transportation hubs to campuses, schools, and even prototypes for bus shelters. In each case, his work has strengthened the urban fabric by creating new centers of social and civic activity. As he points out, “Even my smallest buildings are about being part of a larger community.” A pragmatic visionary, Stan’s creative exploration of the possibilities of place is tempered by his keen sense of market and political realities.
Stan holds a Bachelor of Architectural Engineering from Penn State and a Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining what was then The Ehrenkrantz Group in 1986, Stan was director of the Urban Design program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Together with former partner Alex Cooper, he was responsible for the master plan for Battery Park City, winner of the Urban Land Institute's 2010 Heritage Award, which cited the plan for having "facilitated the private development of 9.3 million square feet of commercial space, 7.2 million square feet of residential space, and nearly 36 acres of open space in lower Manhattan, becoming a model for successful large-scale planning efforts and marking a positive shift away from the urban renewal mindset of the time." Stan has gone on to design many urban buildings and districts that involve placemaking as an intrinsic concern.
Known as Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn since the 1997 arrival of partner Dennis Kuhn, a noted preservationist, EE&K is now a Perkins Eastman Company, giving Stan even greater means to continue to push the boundaries of placemaking in his urbanism and design work.
Please see a copy of his presentation here:


Download the Spring 2012 Placemaking Schedule.

Eckstut-Waterfronts_06.25 Presentation-Small.pdf6.95 MB