The Power of Placemaking

We’ve all had that feeling. That sensation within us that occurs when we enter a new space.

Somehow that environment speaks to us on a level that is beyond our normal senses… communicating to us on a more fundamental and powerful level.

That sense of place conveys to us its story. It invokes specific feelings. It serves to either welcome, or warn… engage or repel… invoking old and creating new memories. Placemaking creates a sense of unity in an otherwise fragmented world, drawing us in and enticing us to stay.

That is the power of placemaking and why it has proven to be a valuable and cost-effective asset in any project.

Placemaking is the combining of various elements in order to create a place which invokes certain feelings that attracts and guides us to, and through it. Placemaking provides the essentials of what we need that space to provide, such as places for us to gather, engage and enjoy. Sometimes those essentials include food, entertainment, art and interesting, unique iconography. Placemaking is crafting the EXPERIENCE you desire your audience to have.

Some of these places are naturally occurring… the Grand Canyon… Niagara Falls… the silence of a snow blanketed mountain… the salt mist of a windswept ocean beach.

Others require human invention.

Before one can begin telling an authentic story of a place in order to provide those experiences, extensive research is necessary. We dig into the place’s past. We survey key stakeholders; valued voices, experience, opinions and requirements. Often times this includes gathering community input, especially when creating public spaces.

We use this information in conjunction with our client to help them shape the vision for a space that will convey their story that will well serve all now and endure throughout the ages. Every story is different and helping our clients discover the story they want to tell is an essential part of the placemaking process.

Once we have that story, we begin the selection and curation of the elements necessary to tell it. What do we want the visitor to see, hear, smell and feel as they enter and engage within that space?

This is not a ‘design’ we are creating. We are creating a space… and more specifically… an experience of that place for our visitors.

As artists, artisans and designers, we have access to a bevy of varied elements, imagination and inspiration from which to craft that place experience.

Here are a few example applications of the power of placemaking:

Landmarks, such as the Egyptian obelisk, the Eiffel Tower, and all community gateways that instill into us, a sense of awe, and wonderment… leading us down our path as well as informing us that we have arrived. Landmarks help ground us in knowing where we are and guiding us to where we want to be. They provide a unifying force within the community they serve.

Las Vegas Gateway

Placemaking is a powerful shaper of experience within communities. Not only does it distinguish one community from another… It serves to unify people by communicating their social consensus and shared sense of community identity.

City of Long Beach Gateway

For retail and mixed use environments, telling an authentic story… creating an enticing and engaging customer experience… one that creates a connection with the customer which translates into customer joy and loyalty is the major differentiation factor between success and failure.

City Creek Center

There’s not a more powerful sense of place than the intimacy of one’s own home. The expert use of placemaking plays a predominant role in residential developments through conveying that sense of place in which a prospective tenant can see themselves living within that story, calling that place home as well as differentiating one development from its competition.

Two Light Luxury Apartments – Kansas City

Healthcare practitioners have long known the power of placemaking in the healing process. Intentionally creating an environment of peace, serenity and beauty not only aids those in need of medical services, also those who gather to support them. The more you can lower one’s stress, the more you can inspire confidence… the more that you can connect people with beauty… the more powerful the healing experience.

Kaiser Permanente Antelope Valley

Traveling is an experience which provides awe and wonderment as well as stress and frustration. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, that experience begins at an airport, train station or other transportation hub. Creating a sense of place… a unique, enticing and entertaining destination within the transportation hub itself, is becoming a powerful tool for transportation leaders to attract and retain travelers.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Sports & Entertainment

Very few places have the power and energy of that when we gather together at sporting events and entertainment venues. It is an experience that allows us to set aside our normal life to be transported into another world… along with thousands of our fellow fans.

These carefully curated entertainment experiences allow like minded, like hearted humans to come together into a shared cultural experience connecting people with their heroes as well as each other.

Saint Louis Ballpark Village

Universities and Colleges are prime examples of where placemaking plays a huge impact on the success of the institution. There are few more pivotal moments in life than when a parent and their child go through the process of choosing the school to serve as both educational source as well as potential home for a number of years.

First impressions matter. Especially in that moment when decisions are being made which will affect that student and shape the course of their life. Schools wherein their exterior place does not reflect the excellence of the education it provides will find themselves at a disadvantage in attracting students to those institutions where the place and education are congruent.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Placemaking in the Corporate Environment is essential in order to attract and retain customers and staff alike. When someone enters your space, that place should convey to them who you are, what you can do for them and guide them to obtaining that product or service. The power of placemaking is a compelling factor in attracting your team, creating an environment that maximizes their abilities as well keep them healthy and happy in the pursuit of your combined objectives.

Pacific Design Center

Placemaking is Storytelling.

It is a carefully orchestrated story that when done well, benefits developers and patrons alike. It is a story told through experience. And that experience is the difference between a project’s failure or success.


Every Place Has A Story, Every Story Has A Place


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