Planner’s Portfolio: Tactical Placemaking

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The most recent issue in the Planner’s Portfolio series focuses on a flexible approach to project planning.

Tactical placemaking is an increasingly popular approach to planning that emphasizes testing projects through a series of phases rather than constructing projects straight from the drawing board. Common examples include crosswalks, pedestrian plazas, and bicycle lanes. Projects begin as demonstrations, become pilot projects, and then, if successful, are installed permanently.

The iterative process of tactical placemaking has the benefit of incremental development. Projects begin short-term, low-risk, and inexpensive but lead to long term installation The phases of construction usually include demonstrations, pilot projects, and then permanent structures.

Pilot projects involve larger budgets and greater degrees of sophistication than demonstrations. This phase serves as an intermediary between a simple demonstration and a permanent installment. Pilot projects use more durable materials such as traffic paint, steel furniture, and planters. A demonstration that marked out a curbside extension with traffic cones might be improved by a pilot project with bright paint and decorative barriers.

Permanent structures are installed after thorough consideration and experimentation. With the benefits of public input from the demonstration and experimentation in the pilot project, final installations are built to last. Permanent structures use sophisticated and long-lasting materials such as concrete, tiling, and railing as it is unlikely changes will be necessary.

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

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