New Report: Adaptive Public Space: Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond

Posted by Knight Foundation on April 13, 2021

On March 24, 2021, Knight Foundation released “Adaptive Public Space: Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond”, a Knight-commissioned report examining seven public spaces across the U.S. to identify what made them successful and to offer recommendations for developing equitable and inclusive spaces beyond the pandemic.

A year has passed since COVID-19 transformed our lives, paradoxically accelerating our adoption of virtual spheres while increasing our reliance on outdoor public spaces that have the power to connect and attach us to community.

We’ve witnessed record usage of these public spaces, underlining how important they are to the resilience of communities. COVID-19 provided an unexpected moment of permission — it allowed our cities to innovate and think far beyond the confines of traditional public spaces.  And it has been a moment to acknowledge the racial inequities that persist in our cities. Which leaves us with the question: how can we leverage this moment in time, when billions of stimulus and other federal dollars are being released for infrastructure projects, to build more inclusive, equitable public spaces moving forward?

The report holds insights for urbanists, foundations, community advocates, public officials and private-sector leaders interested in how responsive public spaces can thrive and be a vehicle for communities to address equitable development.

The study leverages a variety of pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic data for seven outdoor public spaces — prime examples of neighborhood parks, city-wide destinations and nature oases — operating across four cities:  Akron (Summit Lake Park), Detroit (Ella Fitzgerald ParkDetroit Riverfront), Philadelphia (Centennial CommonsCherry Street Pier and The Discovery Center) and San Jose (MOMENT). Gehl conducted interviews, surveys and focus groups with residents; analyzed data collected online from visitors; and compiled existing and new observational data on each space.

Read more and access the report.

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