Overview: What Makes a Great Place

In evaluating thousands of public spaces around the world, the Project for Public Spaces (PPS) has found successful places have four key qualities in common: they are accessible; people are engaged in activities there; the space is comfortable and has a good image; and, finally, it is a sociable place — one where people meet each other and take people when they come to visit. PPS developed the Place Diagram as a tool to help people in judging any place, good or bad.

Credit: Project for Public Spaces

You can use the Place Diagram to evaluate places in your community to see if they meet PPS’s great place standards and in your planning efforts to make a place better.

A great place offers a variety of things to do or see. These activities could be as simple as reading a newspaper, listening to music, sitting on the grass or a bench, eating lunch, etc.

The Project for Public Spaces (PPS) uses the “Power of 10,” which it defines as the idea that any great place needs to have at least 10 things to do in it or 10 reasons to be there. The concept then expands to reflect the fact that a city shouldn’t only have one great neighborhood but many, and a region should not only have one livable city but a collection of interesting communities. See a Power of 10 example applied to locations in Chicago.

Think about one of the best places in your neighborhood and try to describe 10 things that you could do in that place or in that neighborhood. Then imagine how these things can be transferred to other places in your community to make them great places, too.

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