Houston Is North America's "Placemaking Capital," Which We Think Is a Good Thing

Discovery Green, continuing to rack up praise.
Discovery Green, continuing to rack up praise.

Houston, you're no longer just the capital of awful baseball, bad air and crushing summers.

You are officially The Placemaking Capital of North America, according to the Project for Public Spaces. This inestimable honor is unquestionably deserved, unless you count as a question "What the hell is a placemaking capital?"

It is, PPS says, a city that has its act together creating urban public spaces.

"Despite Houston's enduring image as a downtown office park where every project strives to be bigger and glitzier than anything that came before, the city is now focusing on creating lively new public spaces," PPS says. "Houston has become a hot-spot by turning its planning process for public spaces upside down. Instead of using a project oriented and design-led approach, it is using a bottom-up Placemaking approach."

Again, we're not fluent in place-ese, including the use of capital letters, but it sounds like PPS is praising the city's method of getting input from residents and groups when planning new spaces.

Three sites are singled out: Discovery Green, Market Square Park and the Barker Ripley Neighborhood Center.

"Discovery Green opened in the spring of 2008 and soon became a magnet destination," the group says. "It is estimated that more than 2.3 million people have now visited this unique public space and that the park has catalyzed nearly $1 billion in nearby development, showing how Placemaking pays off."

So if you ever run into a Placemaker, know that you come from the city he or she bows to.


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