What Not to Do When Planning a Creative Placemaking Project

April 15, 2021

What Not to Do When Planning a Creative Placemaking Project

Starting a placemaking or development project is a big undertaking. With so many factors to consider and clients to cater to, mistakes are bound to happen. Although each misstep can certainly be a learning opportunity (or even lead to a new, stronger plan), they come at the cost of your time, money, and occasionally clients. Learning common mistakes with placemaking is essential for focusing your project on differentiation, not drama.

When it comes down to it, placemaking isn't just about beautification — it's about betterment. Improving a space with your work necessitates involving every aspect of the area. Studies have consistently shown that properly executed projects can enrich economies, empower citizens, and improve the longevity of a community.

Creative Placemaking Project Mistakes

Land builders are creative, and frequently have many wonderful ideas about what to do with a new area. Milesbrand is here to assist you with every step of the project and ensure that you understand what not to do. Here are some mistakes that have no place in your blueprint: 

Ignore the Voice of the Community 

A large goal of your placemaking may be to attract new residents to a community, but that doesn't mean you should disregard the people who are already there. On the contrary, community members are extremely valuable resources to developers. They likely know the culture, history, and their neighbors much better than you do as an outsider to the community.

Although a space might feel new to you, you're definitely not starting from scratch. By taking the time to get to know the existing beliefs, traditions, and values of an area, you can gain additional insights into its unique selling points. Each community has its own special intricacies that, if you take the time to notice them, can be incorporated into your placemaking efforts. 

Overlook Key Geographical Elements

When building homes, geographical elements may be something that you have to build around. When it comes to placemaking, however, these features can help inform your vision and showcase all that an area has to offer. After all, these geographical elements are, by definition, unique to your geographic area. Rather than disguising them, effective placemaking should leverage these landmarks as natural marketing tools and attractions. 

A classic example of this was seen in a Seattle community. Developers were thrilled to see that the area had a perfect view of Mt. Rainier, but their current plan had not factored in the mountain. If they stuck to their original idea, all views of the mountain would be obscured. Determined not to let this valuable selling point go to waste, the land planner raised the land entering the community and placed a recreation center atop the higher vantage point. The new building offered a wonderful place for community members to gather — and a perfect view of the stunning Mt. Rainier. 

Isolate Community Features

It's natural to want each of your community's elements to be outstanding. However, you never want a community feature to be literally out-standing, further away from the rest of the area. Land planners' placemaking goals should focus on creating opportunities for unity and togetherness. The cohesion of a community shouldn't be sacrificed for the sake of a spectacle. 

While it's important to have many diverse features and opportunities for residents, each addition should build upon the others, adding meaning and use to the place as a whole. You can't plan community centers without considering the paths of your road, and you shouldn't place your park without considering the view of the pond. With proper planning, natural and man-made elements can easily work in tandem to connect not just roads to driveways, but people to their communities. 

Disregard Arts & Culture

In an effort to make sure that your project is logistically sound, it is all too easy to forget to incorporate culture. Although you can't build a culture or a sense of community pride as easily as you build a park bench, creative placemaking can set the tone for your community and naturally inspire residents. Arts and culture impact the tone, mood, and atmosphere of an area and truly make it the lifeblood of a project. 

Fortunately, there are many ways to incorporate this artistry and emotion into your creative placemaking projects. Installations like museums, grass amphitheaters, and performing arts centers can add originality and value to a community. Creating spaces for reflection and performance allow current and prospective residents to imagine themselves center stage, living their life to the fullest within your master-planned community. 

These cultural places serve a dual benefit by incorporating the arts into community engagement and encouraging more widespread area events. They help to establish the culture and give residents a unique building that is theirs to rally behind and protect. The connections made within the walls of art centers will have impacts reaching much further into the place. These places will also give a platform to diverse voices and stories, teaching empathy while providing entertainment, community value, and new friendships. 

Milesbrand Helps Market Creative Placemaking Projects

If you were only taking notes on the headings, remember this is what not to do! Effective placemaking means taking a deep dive into the existing community culture, creating a strategic and cohesive layout for land features, and fostering community pride and connection. It goes far beyond just using great spaces; instead, it helps to make memories, build friendships, and make a difference in the health and happiness of your residents. 

It is certainly a big task, but the end results can be absolutely stunning. That's why when you partner up with Milesbrand, we stay with you every step of the way. By getting to know your unique project and company, we can advise you through every step of the process, from initial ideation to the final home site sale. 

Milesbrand has become an award-winning company by helping brand and plan award-winning communities, and we can’t wait for yours to be next. We love collaborating on placemaking projects to bring our clients’ communities to life. If you're ready to take your placemaking to the next level, contact Milesbrand today. 

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