Planner’s Portfolio: Placemaking

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The first issue in the Planner’s Portfolio series focuses on defining the Character Areas identified in Delaware County 2035.

Community Placemaking is an approach to community planning and redevelopment that emphasizes local community strengths and characteristics. This includes both physical characteristics, such as parks, housing styles, and transportation, as well as less concrete elements such as special event programming. While often taken for granted, these are the features that comprise the very fabric of our communities. It is important that they are all considered together to promote a positive relationship between them.

Simply put, community placemaking is a focus on what makes a town, street, or park special. This issue of the Planner’s Portfolio series focuses on the different types of elements that contribute to placemaking and how to maintain and/or create them.

Residential land use accounts for approximately 46% of the land in Delaware County. As such, it plays a big part in creating the places and character of the County. Mature neighborhoods have a tremendous mix of housing types that create unique neighborhoods. When infill development occurs, it is important to build houses and structures that fit within the contextual aesthetic of a community to build on that community character.

Placemaking concepts are perhaps most common in the Central Places of the County, even if they are not always obvious. Central Places are great examples of how small design and development choices can add up to bigger change: the sidewalks here are slightly wider, inviting more pedestrians; the streets are slightly narrower, slowing down traffic and increasing safety; stores fill the first floor of multi-story buildings, providing interest to the building façade; unique wayfinding orients visitors and provides a visual identity. Together, these elements help to differentiate the ‘downtown’ area from the rest of the community.

For more information, check out the Community Placemaking issue or the entire Planner’s Portfolio series.



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Delaware County, presently consisting of over 184 square miles divided into forty-nine municipalities is the oldest settled section of Pennsylvania.


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