Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...

Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...
Places for People in the
Pandemic and Beyond


                                               MARCH 2021
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...

      Gehl evaluated the impact of seven public spaces                Gehl / New York
                                                                      395 Hudson Street, 8th Floor
      — each funded in part by Knight Foundation — in                 New York, NY 10014
      Akron, Detroit, Philadelphia, and San Jose. Between
      September 2020 and February 2021, Gehl engaged        
      a range of stakeholders and leveraged a mix of data
      sources to uncover challenges and opportunities
      unique and common to these projects. Enclosed are
      the findings from this process.

      GEHL                            KNIGHT FOUNDATION

      Matthew Lister                  Evette Alexander
      Managing Director               Director of Learning & Impact
      Julia Day                       Lilly Weinberg
      Director                        Senior Director of Community
      Eamon O’Connor                  & National Initiatives
      Project Manager                 Kyle Kutuchief
      Olivia Flynn                    Program Director, Akron
      Rebecca Cook
      Adriana Akers
      Sofie Thorsen

Knight Foundation & Gehl                              2
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...

Executive Summary                                    4
Overview of Public Spaces Studied                   12

2020 in Focus                                      16

1 / Everyday Public Space                          20
2 / Residents at the Center                        30
3 / Community Ripple Effect                        40
4 / Sustaining in the Long Run                     50

Considerations for the Field                       58

1 / Methodology                                    64
2 / Online Survey Analysis                         70
3 / Social Media Analysis                          76

                                    3   Adaptive Public Space
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...

      This study of seven flagship public
      spaces reveals how local leaders
      generated impact through their
      responsiveness to community needs
      — laying the groundwork for more
      equitable outcomes and greater
      resilience during the pandemic.

               uilding on its longtime        The Approach                           Everyday Public Space: How do
               commitment to                                                         design and programming shape
               public spaces, Knight          Located in Akron, Detroit,             visitors’ use of and engagement with
               Foundation commissioned                                               the space?
                                              Philadelphia, and San Jose,
      Gehl — a global urban planning,         the seven projects in this study
      design, and strategy firm — to                                                 Residents at the Center: How
                                              represent $5 million in direct         does the space reflect, welcome,
      conduct an impact assessment of         Knight investments. An additional      and empower those who live in the
      seven public spaces in its portfolio.   $50 million in co-funding and          community?
      The findings illustrate the power       follow-on investments from other
      of public space as a platform           funders including the Reimagining      Community Ripple Effect: What
      for community development:              the Civic Commons network went         broader impacts is the space having
      whether by building resident trust,     toward these sites, wider area         on the community, city, and beyond?
      spurring social activity, supporting    improvements and ongoing space
      economic and workforce                  operations. The spaces range           Sustaining in the Long Run: How
      development, or catalyzing              widely: neighborhood parks that        does the project sustain operationally
      neighborhood change.                    give residents a go-to gathering       and financially over time?
                                              spot; nature spaces that re-engage
      This power makes public spaces a        locals with the outdoors; and          COVID-19: Are residents visiting
      key ingredient in the recovery from                                            these projects amid the pandemic,
                                              citywide destinations that offer art
      COVID-19 — a crisis that has raised                                            and how are operators adapting to
                                              studios, beachscapes, and more.
                                                                                     new conditions?
      the stakes for overcoming deeply
      rooted, systemic challenges in our      Given the diversity of spaces, this    The Gehl team gathered pre- and
      cities. For policymakers, funders,      study did not set out to measure       mid-pandemic data from multiple
      and practitioners, these findings       the spaces against one another         sources, including: interviews and
      are a call to action. By elevating      using a common set of metrics. The     focus groups with over 50 people
      public spaces, leaders nationwide       goal was to understand impacts         (including grantees, city government
      can drive more equitable outcomes       related to four core themes, and to    leaders, volunteers and artists-in-
      in the pandemic and beyond.             life during the COVID-19 pandemic:     residence); an online survey of over

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                       4
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...
800 respondents near each space;    programming, historic character,        67 percent felt the spaces were
existing and new observational data and the arts invited regular            essential to their neighborhoods —
on space use; and an analysis of over
                                    activity. Across the board, 82          figures that rose for neighborhood
450 posts of geotagged Instagram    percent of survey respondents           parks especially.
activity. The findings that follow are
                                    feel positively about these
the result of this multi-method study.
                                    projects and 59 percent visit at        Participatory engagement
                                    least monthly. The two multi-           methods helped build this resident
The Findings                        functional neighborhood spaces          belonging and attachment. For
                                    — Detroit’s Ella Fitzgerald Park        example, at Akron’s Summit Lake
Public spaces manifest in the       and Philadelphia’s Centennial           Park — which used prototypes
physical world, but what really     Commons — had the highest               to engage residents during the
makes them tick is people. As such, rates of regular visitors. Over half    design process — 97 percent of
Knight develops partnerships with of respondents visit both spaces          respondents felt the project had
communities on the ground and       at least weekly, suggesting they        changed their neighborhood for
invests in projects that support    offered locals ample reasons to         the better, up from 57 percent at the
more than design and construction visit — from basketball courts            start of the project. Ella Fitzgerald
— funding, for example,             and playspaces, to porch swings         Park and Centennial Commons,
engagement processes, incubation and warm-weather movie nights.             which adopted similar engagement
of new ideas, and workforce         The presence of art and historic        approaches, also saw the greatest
development. In many cases,         architecture also helped drive          levels of weekly visitors, enthusiasm,
Knight and other philanthropic      engagement. For example,                and attachment. These projects
funding sources help absorb risk    Philadelphia’s Cherry Street            also saw higher rates of attachment
for an innovative new concept and Pier — an arts space housed in            among Black respondents —
catalyze additional investment.     a revitalized waterfront site —         indeed, near neighborhood parks,
                                    had the most active Instagram           79 percent of Black respondents
This people-centered model is       engagement of all projects, with        agreed the space was “special to
generating impact. A common         over 21,000 followers.                  me,” compared to 70 percent of all
ingredient? High-quality design                                             respondents.
and programming that reflected      Challenges to everyday use
and adapted to local needs. This    centered on barriers to access.         But for many projects, building
approach is what spurred resident For example, the Freight Yard             trust among communities of
visits and attachment, and what     at Detroit Riverfront sits below-       color remains a challenge. This
enabled these public spaces to      grade — a dynamic that deterred         was especially true at nature
weather disruptions to public life  pop-up businesses from posting          spaces, for example, where 45
during the COVID-19 pandemic.       up at the space, and that leaves        percent of Black respondents
Even still, project leaders are     some visitors asking for more           agreed the space was “special
confronting and addressing          wayfinding. Upcoming investments        to me,” compared to 56 percent
challenges inherent to public space will address connectivity               of all respondents. “[Local
management: from site-specific      challenges: the Dequindre Cut will      Black residents] don’t always
barriers to access, to longtime     eventually integrate into a 26-mile     feel encouraged because they
resident distrust.                  trail under development by the          don’t feel outdoor spaces or
                                    City, which will improve access and     environmental work have always
Impacts are organized into five key visibility to multiple neighborhoods.   been for them,” says Izzy Nelson,
areas. Where possible, findings                                             Community Engagement Manager
were compared across space          —                                       for Philadelphia Outward Bound
types and across all projects,      RESIDENTS AT THE CENTER                 School (POBS) at The Discovery
                                                                            Center. Over time, community-
keeping in mind that intended
                                                                            centered programming is starting
project outcomes varied.            Community participation allowed
                                                                            to draw in more locals to the
                                    project organizers to build
—                                                                           project; events include mommy-
                                    trust with residents, which in
                                                                            and-me workshops and a talk
EVERYDAY PUBLIC SPACE               turn increased use and sense of
                                                                            on environmental racism.
                                    attachment to the spaces. Across
Projects that supported quality     all projects, 81 percent of survey
design, resident-centered           respondents felt they fit in, and                      Continued on page 8

                                                      5                                              Adaptive Public Space
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...
Top                        Learning from a diverse set of
                                 public spaces in Akron, Detroit,
      Findings                   Philadelphia, and San Jose

      Public spaces with a strong foundation
      of resident engagement helped
      communities address equitable access
      and weather the pandemic together.

                                         PHOTO: BREE GANT

                                                                                        Ella Fitzgerald Park in
                                                                                        Detroit (left) and Centennial
      Projects that supported                                                           Commons in Philadelphia
      quality design,                                                                   — flexible neighborhood
                                                                                        spaces — had the most
      resident-centered                                                                 regular visitors, with 54
                                                                                        percent visiting each
      programming, historic                                                             at least weekly. Cherry
                                                                                        Street Pier, an arts space
      character, and the arts                                                           on a historic Philadelphia
                                                                                        pier, spurred the most
      invited regular activity.                                                         Instagram activity.

      More starting on page 20

                                                                                                                        PHOTO: ALBERT YEE

                                                            The Discovery Center
                                                            in Philadelphia has
      Community participation                               drawn locals with events
      allowed project organizers                            including mommy-and-me
                                                            workshops, an event on
      to build trust with                                   environmental racism,
                                                            and youth programs; the
      residents, which in turn                              project had among the
                                                            highest youth visitorship
      increased use and sense of                            rates.

      attachment to the spaces.
      More starting on page 30

Knight Foundation & Gehl                            6
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...

                                PHOTO: SAN JOSE DOWNTOWN ASSOCIAITION
                                                                                                         MOMENT’s $139,000 seed
                                                                                                         grant funded a first-of-
Investments catalyzed                                                                                    its kind retail concept in
funding for innovative                                                                                   downtown San Jose, and
                                                                                                         led to over $600,000 in
ideas, and led to local                                                                                  funding over the next four
                                                                                                         years. Building on the
capacity-building and                                                                                    momentum of Summit
                                                                                                         Lake Park in Akron, a $15.5
community development.                                                                                   million vision plan is now
                                                                                                         underway in the area.
More starting on page 40


                                                                                                                                       PHOTO: RENEE RODRIGUEZ
                                                                        Detroit Riverfront
                                                                        leverages over 300
Local stewardship,                                                      community volunteers
responsive processes, and                                               and data-driven decision-
                                                                        making to guide ongoing
trusted operators helped                                                maintenance and
                                                                        improvements to the park;
sites develop sustainable                                               sensors help monitor the
                                                                        flow and activity of visitors.
operating models and adapt
to changing conditions.
More starting on page 50

                                PHOTO: GEHL

                                                                                                         Detroit Riverfront and
                                                                                                         Cherry Street Pier in
Attention to resident-                                                                                   Philadelphia have seen
centered and flexible                                                                                    spikes in foot traffic.
                                                                                                         Visitorship was up over
spaces helped projects                                                                                   threefold between
                                                                                                         November 2019 and
adapt during the pandemic                                                                                November 2020 at Cherry
                                                                                                         Street Pier — thanks in
and provide safe venues                                                                                  part to the site’s garden
                                                                                                         restaurant, a popular
for solo and social activity.                                                                            outdoor hangout.

More starting on page 16

                                                             7                                                           Adaptive Public Space
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...
—                                    Zoo to clean other parts of the       At Detroit Riverfront, data-driven
      COMMUNITY RIPPLE EFFECT              neighborhood, and to fundraising      decision making helps space
                                           for Centennial Parkside CDC to        managers identify how and where
      Investments catalyzed funding        hire a Director of Sanitation and     to adapt — leveraging sensors to
      for innovative ideas, and led        Environmental Programming. This       monitor the flow of visitors and
      to local capacity-building and       position will increase capacity,      develop programs in response.
      community development. Direct        grow cleaning services, connect
      Knight investment of over $5         the program to other workforce        MOMENT's curator, SJ Made — a
      million in these projects was about development opportunities, and         collective of San Jose makers and
      10 percent of the overall funding    create educational programs           entrepreneurs — has been involved
      for the sites, many of which saw     around litter prevention. More        since the beginning of the project
      substantial investments from other recently, the project received over     design process. With tenants in
      funding sources along with Knight $500,000 in follow-on funding for        mind, it helped shape a design and
      commitments.                         a second phase of work, and for an    operating model that eases their
                                           employee to lead programming in       experience. “Any struggles that we
      For example, Knight and the Kresge West Fairmount Park.                    had putting this space together
      Foundation each invested up to                                             would have been times ten in a real
      $150,000 in Detroit Riverfront's     For some projects, though,            retail space,” says MOMENT tenant
      Freight Yard. For the Riverfront’s   public space investments led to       Au Nguyen.
      Valade Park, Knight’s $225,700       fears of resident displacement
      investment in 2017 came with         — especially if they were not         While no projects stated immediate
      over $900,000 in co-funding          paired with proactive policy and      concern for financial sustainability,
      from other sources. In addition,     planning. To address these fears,     some are actively working to
      in 2018, the Valade Family made a    local leaders near Summit Lake        diversify funding sources and
      generous donation of $5 million,     Park and The Discovery Center         secure ongoing revenue while
      which supported construction and are now exploring measures                sustaining their missions. This was
      operations at the park.              like property tax freezes and         especially true for larger-scale,
                                           homeownership pathways to             citywide destination sites that have
      MOMENT’s 2015 Knight Cities          ensure longtime residents benefit     broad mandates and rely on a
      Challenge grant of $139,000          from neighborhood change.             combination of philanthropic and
      funded a first-of-its-kind retail    “It’s going to take proactive         sometimes-limited public funding.
      concept and led to over $600,000 policy intervention,” says James          “We try to operate everything at a
      in funding over the next four years. Hardy, Akron’s Deputy Mayor for       lower than market rate, which is so
      “The [Knight grant] was the seed     Integrated Development.               great for the community and not
      money to get it off the ground,”                                           so great for the operating budget,”
      says Chuck Hammers, former           —                                     says Cherry Street Pier General
      head of the local Property-Based     SUSTAINING IN THE LONG RUN            Manager Sarah Eberle. Lease
      Improvement District in San Jose.                                          revenue from the Pier’s outdoor
                                           Local stewardship, responsive         restaurant and bar has been a
      At Centennial Commons, Knight’s      processes, and trusted operators      financial boon — especially during
      $1 million capital investment        helped sites develop sustainable      the pandemic as visitors socialize
      through Reimagining the Civic        operating models and adapt to         outdoors there.
      Commons led to over $1.5 million     changing conditions. To address
      in funding from the Philadelphia     a lack of ongoing financial support   Both Delaware River Waterfront
      Water Department — for               for maintenance, Ella Fitzgerald      Corporation (DRWC), which owns
      installation and maintenance         Park embedded co-creation into        Cherry Street Pier, and Detroit
      of an on-site rain garden. The       the design process. This helped       Riverfront Conservancy are
      funding allowed for the hiring       to foster a long-term sense of        exploring how they can generate
      of five local residents as part      ownership: a 2018 survey of           revenue outside of traditional
      of a workforce development           park visitors found 62 percent        sources — for example, by using
      program; the program’s success       participated in stewardship           value capture to benefit from
      has led to additional contracts      or advocacy related to the            nearby real estate development.
      with the Philadelphia Commerce       neighborhood — participation that     In the meantime, DRWC is turning
      Department and the Philadelphia      was vital to maintaining the space.   to its other waterfront properties

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                    8
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...
                                                                                                    SPACE TYPE              YEAR OPENED             PROJECT COST
                                                                                                                                                     (inclusive of all
AKRON / SUMMIT LAKE PARK                                                                                                                           funding sources)²

From environmental liability to beloved lakeside park. Summit                                        Nature
Lake Park provides ample seating and shelter, barbecues, trail                                                                  2018                 $714,000
connections, and recreational programming on the shores of a
lake that was once seen as an environmental hazard. (RCC¹ site)

From 26 vacant lots to a neighborhood living room. Ella
Fitzgerald Park is the first project in a broader neighborhood                                  Neighborhood
                                                                                                                                2018                $2,094,318
planning process. It provides public art, recreational space, and                                   Park
an educational and workforce development program for local
youth and transitional workers. (RCC site)

                                                                                                                               2018                  $320,000
From an aging industrial area to a multi-use urban destination.                                                           (Freight Yard)           (Freight Yard)
The Riverfront includes the Freight Yard, a stop on the Dequindre                                  Citywide
Cut greenway that houses a beer and wine garden, and Valade                                       Destination
                                                                                                                              2019                 $5,200,000
Park, home to a beachscape, floating barge, and two local food                                                            (Valade Park)            (Valade Park)

From no-man’s land to parkside gateway. Centennial Commons                                      Neighborhood
bridges the gap between the Parkside neighborhood and                                                                           2018                $4,474,000
adjacent West Fairmount Park, providing an inviting place for
everyday activity and community-based programming. (RCC site)

From vacant pier to buzzing arts haven. Cherry Street Pier
houses 14 artist studios, interactive installations, and an outdoor                                Citywide
                                                                                                                                2018               $6,000,000
restaurant and bar within a historic pier structure on the                                        Destination
Delaware River Waterfront — a unique space for the public to
interact with artists and makers.

From fenced-off reservoir to nature oasis. The Discovery
Center sits at the edge of a long-shuttered reservoir. Philadelphia                                  Nature
Parks and Recreation leases the 57 acres to Philadelphia                                             Space                      2018
Outward Bound School and National Audubon Society, which
operate outdoor programming. (RCC site)

From parking bays to one-of-a-kind downtown retail. Once a
parking garage facade, MOMENT is now a creative hub on San                                         Citywide
                                                                                                                                2018                 $780,000
Pedro Square. The project provides affordable retail space to                                     Destination
local makers, diversifies downtown amenities, and adds to the
Square’s public life.

1. Indicates the project received funding as part of Reimagining the Civic Commons. For more on Reimagining the Civic Commons, visit page 12.
2. Total cost of all projects is not necessarily equal to total funding for all projects, as some funds went toward wider area improvements and ongoing operations.

                                                                                   9                                                                  Adaptive Public Space
Adaptive Public Space - Places for People in the Pandemic and Beyond A COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT OF SEVEN SITES IN AKRON, DETROIT, PHILADELPHIA ...
Projects provided safe venues for solo
      and social activity during the pandemic —
      adapting design and programming to continue
      offering vital community spaces.

      to help finance its public space      projects built a local sense of       issues around inclusion and
      projects. “We’re developing them      ownership — inspiring locals to       trust in communities of color;
      in such a way that we can have        organize unofficial programming,      ensuring projects lead to equitable
      a reliable source of income and       from picnics with the grandparents    community development; and
      rent,” says Lizzie Woods, DRWC        to hula hoop troupes, throughout      creating sustainable operating
      Vice President of Planning and        the pandemic.                         models that balance revenue
      Capital Programs.                                                           generation with a consistent focus
                                           Projects also took advantage of        on mission.
      —                                    their flexible design to test new
      COVID-19                             programming. MOMENT hosted             To build on successes and
                                           outdoor community workshops            overcome these challenges,
      Attention to resident-centered       with tenants as part of an open        the conclusion of this report
      and flexible spaces helped           streets program. The Riverfront        summarizes considerations for
      projects adapt during the            leveraged the popularity and size      Knight, other funders, and the
      pandemic and provide safe            of the Freight Yard to hold open-      wider field, including:
      venues for solo and social activity. air live music with enough room
      While the pandemic disrupted         for distancing. Cherry Street          —
      public life, two sites — Detroit     Pier’s outdoor restaurant and bar      To address challenges related
      Riverfront and Cherry Street Pier    became a popular hangout, helping      to physical connectivity, invest
      — observed increases in foot traffic drive many artists’ sales during the   in design changes that improve
      compared to the previous year.       pandemic — with a third of artists     access to the site.
      Cherry Street Pier experienced       financing their studio rent from on-
      a more-than-threefold increase       site sales alone, up from 15 percent   —
      in foot traffic between November     the previous year.                     To address challenges around
      2019 and November 2020.                                                     inclusion and trust among
                                            Conclusion                            communities of color, expand
      Neighborhood spaces were also                                               support of local organizations
      resilient, as a greater proportion    Expanding the scope of funding        and fund ongoing community
      of residents surveyed near Ella       beyond shovels in the ground laid     participation efforts.
      Fitzgerald Park and Centennial        the groundwork for public spaces
      Commons (followed closely by          that reflect local communities and    —
      the Riverfront) reported visiting     respond to changing conditions.       To proactively manage resident
      the parks more frequently than        Many projects’ ability to adapt and   concerns around displacement,
      residents near other sites during     continue attracting visitors during   tie public space investments to
      the pandemic. For example, 58         the pandemic cemented this            broader community development
      percent of Ella Fitzgerald Park       strong foundation.                    processes.
      respondents said they visit the
      park as often as or more frequently   Despite this, projects face           —
      than before, compared to a cross-     challenges. Challenges most           To create sustainable operating
      project average of 37 percent. The    often are related to: planning        models, fund innovative new
      robust community engagement           around site-specific barriers to      paradigms that diversify revenue
      processes that shaped these           access; addressing perceptual         sources.

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                    10
Overall, to help project leaders
think more boldly and address
challenges to their work, create
opportunities for cross-project
knowledge exchange.

For those committed to ensuring
public spaces meet resident needs
and drive equitable community
development, the lessons in this
report serve as a guide.

Many thoughtful planners,
designers, and community leaders
know that more inclusive and
responsive approaches are vital.
Putting these approaches to
work can be more challenging. By
revealing successful strategies
and tactics, the projects in this
report point the way toward more
inclusive and adaptive methods
in public space planning — in the
pandemic and beyond.

What's more, these findings
demonstrate how thoughtfully
developed public spaces can spark
larger community change — by
helping residents re-envision and
embrace their neighborhoods,
building capacity of local
organizations, and spurring
additional investment in the area.
From small neighborhood parks to
landmark waterfront sites, public
spaces are a strong foundation
for more positive and equitable
community development.

                                     11   Adaptive Public Space

               he projects studied in             from Knight, the seven projects      people together, by revitalizing
               this impact assessment             raised over $50 million in co-       and connecting public spaces
               ranged widely:                     funding and follow-on funding from   and countering the economic and
               neighborhood parks                 other sources.                       social fragmentation that are all
      that gave residents a go-to                                                      too common.
      gathering spot; nature spaces that   Four of the seven sites — Summit
      re-engaged their communities         Lake Park, Ella Fitzgerald Park,       To guide readers, the coming pages
      with the outdoors; and citywide      Centennial Commons, and The            include brief overviews of each
      destinations that offered art        Discovery Center — received            project.
      studios, beachscapes, and more.      funding from Reimagining the Civic
                                           Commons (RCC). RCC is a funder
      These projects represent diverse     collaborative comprised of The JPB
      public space investments, and were Foundation, Knight Foundation,
      opened between 2018 and 2019.        The Kresge Foundation, The
      They represent over $5 million in    Rockefeller Foundation, and
      investment within Knight's broader William Penn Foundation. The
      public space portfolio, which has    Miami Foundation serves as fiscal
      issued 180 grants in 26 cities since sponsor. A national initiative piloted
      2015. In addition to their grants    in Philadelphia, RCC seeks to bring


                                                                                                                           PHOTOS: KNIGHT FOUNDATION
      Summit Lake Park
      From environmental liability to
      beloved lakeside park. Summit
      Lake Park provides ample seating
      and shelter, barbecues, trail
      connections, and recreational
      programming on the shores of
      a lake that was once seen as an
      environmental hazard.

      YEAR OPENED / 2018

      TYPE / Nature Space

      WHAT KNIGHT FUNDED / Inclusive
      engagement process, capital construction,
      and programming for the space

      Note: This project received RCC funding.


Knight Foundation & Gehl                                          12

                                                                             PHOTOS: GOOGLE STREET VIEW (BEFORE); COURTESY OF SPACKMAN MOSSOP MICHAELS (AFTER)
Ella Fitzgerald Park
From 26 vacant lots to a
neighborhood living room. Ella
Fitzgerald Park is the first project
in a broader neighborhood
planning process. It provides
public art, recreational space, and
an educational and workforce
development program for local
youth and transitional workers.


TYPE / Neighborhood Park

WHAT KNIGHT FUNDED / Development of
first public park in Fitzgerald neighborhood,
including: capital dollars; funds for ongoing
programming through 2022; and a workforce
development program that maintains the site
and helped prepare it for construction

Note: This project received RCC funding.



                                                                             PHOTOS: GOOGLE STREET VIEW (BEFORE); FELICIA FULWOOD (AFTER)
Detroit Riverfront
From an aging industrial area to
a multi-use urban destination.
The Riverfront includes the Freight
Yard, a stop on the Dequindre
Cut greenway that houses a beer
and wine garden, and Valade
Park, home to a beachscape,
floating barge, and two local food

YEAR OPENED / 2018 (Dequindre Cut Freight
Yard); 2019 (Valade Park)

TYPE / Citywide Destination (Riverfront Park)

of Freight Yard — a pop-up market on
Dequindre Cut, a former industrial rail line
turned pedestrian greenway that connects
the Riverfront to Eastern Market; Activation
of Valade Park — a strategic location on the
Detroit RiverWalk

Note: Knight also invested in the 2004 capital
campaign for the wider Riverfront.               BEFORE

                                                          13   Adaptive Public Space

                                                                   PHOTOS: GOOGLE STREET VIEW (BEFORE); ALBERT YEE (AFTER)
      From no-man’s land to parkside
      gateway. Centennial Commons
      bridges the gap between the
      Parkside neighborhood and
      adjacent West Fairmount Park,
      providing an inviting place for
      everyday activity and community-
      based programming.

      YEAR OPENED / 2018

      TYPE / Neighborhood Park

      WHAT KNIGHT FUNDED / Capital
      improvements to Centennial Commons and
      programming support for local organizations
      (e.g., Centennial Parkside CDC)

      Note: This project received RCC funding.



                                                                   PHOTOS: GOOGLE STREET VIEW (BEFORE); DELAWARE RIVER WATERFRONT CORPORATION (AFTER)
      Cherry Street Pier
      From vacant pier to buzzing
      arts haven. Cherry Street Pier
      houses 14 artist studios, interactive
      installations, and an outdoor
      restaurant and bar within a historic
      pier structure on the Delaware
      River Waterfront — a unique space
      for the public to interact with
      artists and makers.

      YEAR OPENED / 2018

      TYPE / Citywide Destination (Arts Space)

      WHAT KNIGHT FUNDED / Development
      of a public space that connects a growing
      community of artists, makers, and
      entrepreneurs by repurposing a historic pier
      on the Delaware River waterfront


Knight Foundation & Gehl                                      14

                                                                         PHOTOS: GOOGLE STREET VIEW (BEFORE); HALKIN MASON PHOTOGRAPHY AND DIGSAU (AFTER)
The Discovery
From fenced-off reservoir to
nature oasis. The Discovery Center
sits at the edge of a long-shuttered
reservoir. Philadelphia Parks and
Recreation leases the 57 acres
to Philadelphia Outward Bound
School and National Audubon
Society, who operate outdoor


TYPE / Nature Space

construction; Resident-driven activation

Note: This project received RCC funding.



                                                                         PHOTOS: GOOGLE STREET VIEW (BEFORE); SAN JOSE DOWNTOWN ASSOCIAITION (AFTER)
From parking bays to one-of-a-
kind downtown retail. Once a
parking garage facade, MOMENT
is now a creative hub on San Pedro
Square. The project provides
affordable retail space to local
makers, diversifies downtown
amenities, and adds to the Square’s
public life.


TYPE / Citywide Destination (Micro-Retail

WHAT KNIGHT FUNDED / Transformation of
a parking garage ground floor into micro-
retail units, opposite San Pedro Square
market; Follow-on funding also supported
construction of the parklet outside the


                                                     15   Adaptive Public Space
                                                                                                From the COVID-19 pandemic to the
                                                                                                racial justice movement, how did public
                                                                                                spaces navigate the challenges and
     IN FOCUS                                                                                   dynamics of a year like no other?

                               Local spaces are weathering disruptions to public life,
                               as people seek outlets for physical and mental health.
      While distancing measures and stay-at-
      home orders have kept many residents
      at home, respondents continued to seek                                                          14 percent of people seek a
      out public spaces — whether to maintain                                                         place to exercise outdoors                                             54 percent of
      a routine, or to sustain their physical or                                                                                                                             respondents indicated
                                                                                                  Across the board,                                                          staying home more
      mental health.                                                                                6 percent visit to                                                       throughout the pandemic
                                                                                                     promote mental
                                                                                                 health; people visit
      Three sites in particular — Ella Fitzgerald                                               neighborhood parks
      Park, Centennial Commons, and Detroit                                                     for this reason at an
                                                                                                    even higher rate
      Riverfront — had an above-average                                                                  (14 percent)
      share of respondents who reported
      visiting these spaces more or the
      same amount. Ella Fitzgerald Park
      and Centennial Commons represent
      essential neighborhood spaces,
      while Detroit Riverfront represents a
      citywide destination with ample outdoor
                                                                                                                                     How has your use of
                                                                                                                                     this space changed
                                                                                                                                      during COVID-19?
      Survey Respondents Visiting Public
      Spaces the Same Amount or More


                               49%                  50%

                                                                                                     Visiting these spaces is
                                                                                                     routine for 30 percent
                                                                                                     of respondents who’ve
                                                                                                     maintained or increased
                                                                                                     their visitorship                                              25 percent of
                                                                                                                                                                    respondents are
                                                                                                                                                                    avoiding public spaces to
      37%                                                                                                                                                           avoid crowded places

                                                                                                         Why did people say they                      Why did people say they
                                                    CENTENNIAL COMMONS

                                                                         ELLA FITZGERALD PARK

                                                                                                         visit the same or more often?                visit less often?
                               DETROIT RIVERFRONT

                                                                                                         —                                            —
                                                                                                         Nature-centric projects offer visitors the   Fear of crowds dissuades people from
                                                                                                         greatest sense of safety in their visits —   visiting citywide destinations, but is a
                                                                                                         providing wide open spaces for social        far less significant factor for not visiting
                                                                                                         distancing outdoors. Neighborhood parks      nature-based sites. Higher rates of people
                                                                                                         were more embedded in respondents' daily     aren’t visiting nature sites because they
                                                                                                         routines. These spaces also help visitors    don’t pass by or are avoiding public transit,
                                                                                                         recharge their mental health at higher       indicating these sites may be out of the way
                                                                                                         rates than the other project types.          from locals’ routines.

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                                                                           16
Many destinations have benefited from pandemic-
                                                      friendly programming and a rise in drop-in visitors.
                                                                                                                           Many project leaders cited observational data that
                                                                                                                           signals progress in making their spaces safe and
                                        Average Daily Foot Traffic,                                                        inviting.
                                        Cherry Street Pier
                                                                                                                           At Cherry Street Pier, project leaders and artists
                                                                                                                           cite the success of new drop-in visitors and the
                                                                                                                           on-site outdoor restaurant and bar. Through a
                                                                                                                           reservation system and temperature checks at the
                                                                                                                           entrance, it has become a safe outdoor destination.

                                                                                     5,508                                 The project saw a more than threefold jump in
                                                                                                                           foot traffic from November 2019 to November

                                                                                     visitors                              2020 — based on the site’s 2019 counts and Gehl
                                                                                                                           observational data.

                                                                                                                           “During COVID-19, people were stir-crazy,” says
                                                                                                                           artist-in-residence Jim Abbott. “Bringing their
                                            1,272                                                                          families down, their dogs, their bikes, exercise
                                           visitors                                                                        classes and coaches. The area is on the map.”
                                                                                                             PHOTO: GEHL

                                          NOV 2019                                       NOV 2020                          This rise in pandemic-era foot traffic — along with
                                                                                                                           the site’s maturity and growing public awareness
                                                                                                                           — have paid off for many artists; 33 percent of the
                                                                                                                           latest cohort have been able to pay rent based on
                                                                                                                           their on-site sales, compared to 15 percent in the

                                                                                                                           Pier’s first cohort.

                                                                                                                           MOMENT tenants also saw a rise in drop-ins as
                                                                                                                           they held DIY workshops as part of an open streets
                                                                                                                           program. “Just by having people outside, it got
                                                                                                                           people passing by curious, and brought them into
                                                                                                                           the store,” says tenant Alyssarhaye Graciano.

                                                                                                                           At Detroit Riverfront, 2019 visitorship metrics were
                                                                                                                           matched in half the time. During the 2020 summer
                                                                                                                           months at Detroit Riverfront, this was especially
                                                                                                                           true — more than 200,000 people moved through
                                                                                                                           the Dequindre Cut in August alone. The site’s beer
                                                                                                                           and wine garden — about the size of a football field
                                                                                                                           — also become one of the safer spots in the city for
                                                                                                                           people to relax with a drink, seeing an 11 percent
                                                                                                                           increase in daily revenue from the 2019 to 2020


                                                                                                                           Local food vendors at Valade Park also remained
                                                                                                                           active, and 78 percent of Instagram content tagged
                                                                                                                           at the park documented food or promotions they
                                                                                                                           generated. “Even in the middle of the pandemic
                                                                                                                           when we moved in August, it was one of the busiest
                                                                                                                           times we had,” said Gregory “JB” Sims, owner of
                                                                                                                           Smokey G’s Smokehouse.

                                                                                                                           Says Rachel Frierson, Detroit Riverfront
                                                                                                                           Conservancy Director of Programming, “Detroit felt
                                                                                                                           that emotional trauma that New York went through.
                                                                                                                           Through our programming and public spaces, we’re
                                         The Detroit Riverfront’s large-scale and flexible Freight Yard (top) and Valade   trying to focus on how we can be there for people
                                         Park businesses (bottom) were especially active during the summer months.         during these times.”

                                                                                                                 17                                              Adaptive Public Space
Locals have taken the spaces into their own hands,
                                     organizing DIY programming from a safe distance.
                         Providing a vital form of social

                                                                                                                                                                   PHOTO: COURTESY OF BERNADETTE KING
                         infrastructure to the neighborhoods
                         they serve, these spaces offered a
                         canvas for residents to craft their own

                         “People would come down and see
                         grandparents with their grandchildren,
                         and sit under the shelter and play games
                         or cards,” says Summit Lake resident
                         Grace Hudson. “People are still having
                         birthday parties and family gatherings.
                         COVID-19 slowed things down ... but
                         people were still using the space.”

                         At the Detroit Riverfront, this meant the
                         addition of spontaneous, resident-led
                         yoga and flamenco classes.

                         At Ella Fitzgerald Park, a local hula hoop
                         troupe that meets weekly didn’t let the
                         pandemic stop them — thanks to hula
                         hoops’ built-in distancing function (right,
                         pictured before the COVID-19 pandemic).

                                                                            Ella Fitzgerald Park’s hula hoop troupe continued meeting during the pandemic.

                                     The pandemic has compelled leaders to double down on
                                     their mission and continue meeting resident needs.
                                                                                                                        The extensive engagement processes

                                                                                                                        that shaped these projects continue to
                                                                                                                        serve their communities in the pandemic.
                                                                                                                        In this time of crisis, project leaders
                                                                                                                        have leveraged resident trust to ensure
                                                                                                                        pandemic-era responses address
                                                                                                                        project missions and community needs.

                                                                                                                        In East Parkside, the location of
                                                                                                                        Centennial Commons, the community
                                                                                                                        has looked to Centennial Parkside CDC
                                                                                                                        as a convener throughout the pandemic,
                                                                                                                        a testament to their rise as a vital
                                                                                                                        community organization. What’s more,
                                                                                                                        the CDC has necessarily deprioritized
                                                                                                                        formal programming in the space, as it
                                                                                                                        meets more critical community needs
                                                                                                                        like food and housing security.

                                                                                                                        Cherry Street Pier also deprioritized
                                                                                                                        large events for health reasons,
                                                                                                                        refocusing on artists’ public engagement
                                                                                                                        (such as a Dia de Los Muertos mural-
                                                                                                                        painting workshop), and supporting
                                                                                                                        displaced local businesses with vendor
                          Centennial Parkside CDC launched a food share program to tackle area food insecurity.
                                                                                                                        spots at its artisan markets.

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                                                      18
Project leaders are reckoning with how to make Black
           visitors feel safe in public space.
In light of protests in support of racial    We want to explore how the space can          had an opportunity to host the training
justice and heightened awareness of          continue to feel safe for this group in the   and it was a great way to show folks
police violence, projects are working to     long term,” says CDC Program Director         the park,” says Philadelphia Outward
ensure that Black and Brown residents        Tashia Rayon.                                 Bound School Community Engagement
feel welcome, safe and supported within                                                    Manager Izzy Nelson. “That it was a
these public places. Centennial Parkside     The Discovery Center is also exploring        place where they could get away from
CDC is thoughtfully engaging on this         how to safely engage Strawberry               the neighborhood, to come here and
by leading programming specifically          Mansion’s Black community — in light          reflect … to find a sense of healing, to
to engage Black men amid unrest over         of increased gun violence and a history       clear their minds. That became one of
policing: “It’s put a thumb on young         of disinvestment. Its 2020 training on        the ways we demonstrated the value of
people’s safety — particularly Black men.    gunshot wound first-aid was a start: “We      the center for community members.”

           Public spaces provided a platform for civic expression
           in support of the movement for racial justice.
Across the nation, and world, people

                                                                                                                                      PHOTO: INSTAGRAM; NOTE: FACE HAS BEEN BLURRED OUT FOR PRIVACY
have taken to the streets in support of
the movement for racial justice — and
these values show up in public space,
which serve as vehicles for political

At the Detroit Riverfront’s Dequindre
Cut (right), an analysis of geo-tagged
Instagram content showcases how
residents express their support of racial
justice on the space — through the
creation and documentation of public
art as well as the shared experiences of
Black activists and advocates who spend
time there.

At Cherry Street Pier, resident artists
used their studio windows as a canvas
for making visible their support of racial
justice and fellow Black artists. Acori
Honzo, artist-in-residence, describes

                                                                                                                                      PHOTO: INSTAGRAM
an act of solidarity from a neighboring
White artist: “I walked in one day, and
there’s a Black Lives Matter sign hanging
in Jim’s window. It wasn’t prompted,
nobody made him do it. I’m used to
walking around and wondering if I’m
scary, how I’m being perceived,” he says.
“And if I can work in an environment
and see that hanging in the window and
it’s not the Black shop … I couldn’t be
prouder to work here.”

                                                                 19                                                    Adaptive Public Space
      Public Space

      How do design and
      programming shape visitors’
      use of and engagement with
      the space?


Knight Foundation & Gehl         20

21                        Adaptive Public Space
      deserves a
      public realm.

Knight Foundation & Gehl   22

Projects that supported
quality design, resident-
centered programming,
historic character, and the
arts invited regular activity.

 What’s Working                                     What’s Challenging

 Projects that made sure quality design             Projects with barriers to physical
 resonated with the community saw                   connectivity beyond site boundaries faced
 especially high resident visitorship and           challenges in promoting access.
                                                    Presence of semi-public activity compelled
 Projects that committed to locally oriented        project leaders to explore how they could
 events and programming attracted                   make their spaces inviting to all.
 Adapting existing infrastructure — a
 sustainable approach to construction —
 drove residents to visit these spaces in
 ways they would have never done before.
 Integrating arts and creativity into design
 and programming led to more diverse
 resident engagement and civic expression.

                                               23                                     Adaptive Public Space

      What’s Working                          local artist Hubert Massey and         —
                                              fired at a local ceramics studio.      Projects that committed to locally
      —                                       A street-crossing songbook             oriented events and programming
      Projects that made sure quality         graphic helps calm traffic and         attracted residents.
      design resonated with the               serves as a nod to Ella Fitzgerald,
      community saw especially                the namesake of a one-time             Project leaders made it clear
      high resident visitorship and           neighborhood school. The site          through locally oriented
      enthusiasm.                             also includes draws like a popular     programming and events that the
                                              basketball court and playspace.        space was there for residents to
      Across the board, 81 percent of         Says youth ambassador Chanale          embrace.
      survey respondents feel positively      Greer, “I’m most proud of the
      about these projects — each of          diversity of activity that the park    Both Centennial Commons and
      which has transformed their             brings. I see people doing so many     Summit Lake Park have hosted
      contexts and communities in             things that usually you only see       events like nutrition and cooking
      different ways. In the most             downtown.”                             lessons alongside fresh food
      successful cases, the look, feel, and                                          markets. This type of programming
      definition of quality was driven by     Centennial Commons and Ella            was important to drawing in locals
      the local context and community —       Fitzgerald Park — multifunctional      and meeting their needs.
      quality is not a monolith, but looks    neighborhood spaces that reflect
      different from place to place.          local character — had the highest      “It’s been a long time since our
                                              rates of regular visitorship among     neighbors have seen consistent
      At Centennial Commons                   survey respondents, with 54            activity that is inclusive,” says
      in Philadelphia, that meant             percent visiting both spaces at        Tashia Rayon, Centennial Parkside
      abandoning early ideas for a high-      least weekly.                          CDC Program Director. “Events like
      design playspace — instead opting                                              the Healthy Edge Fresh Food Fest
      for a functional park that could        The two sites are followed by          open up our public space and allow
      connect local Parkside residents        Akron’s Summit Lake Park, where        time for activity, conversation,
      to West Fairmount Park. Survey          42 percent of visitors visit at        and most importantly trust-
      results indicate the investments in     least weekly — slightly above an       building within the community
      connectivity helped — 64 percent        average of 37 percent across all       we serve.” Over 2,500 residents
      of respondents found the space          projects studied. Locals there         have attended events in Centennial
      “very easy” to access — compared        take advantage of picnic tables,       Commons since 2018.
      to a cross-project average of 54        barbecues, and swings for events
      percent. The park’s porch swings        from birthday parties to picnics.      The Discovery Center also evolved
      give a nod to local architecture,       But it’s also become a place of        its programming beyond traditional
      and are now a spot for after-school     calm, too: “I can sit on a swing and   birding and outdoor adventures.
      snacks and Bible study alike.           see the sunset and birds flying        For example, partners held a
                                              across — that’s a vacation view we     workshop on gun violence first-aid
      Detroit’s Ella Fitzgerald Park          have now,” says Sandy Saulsberry,      for community members, given the
      includes mosaic tiles designed by       a Summit Lake resident.                challenges of gun violence in the

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                       24
QUALITY / Projects leveraged quality, locally oriented design to draw everyday activity.

                                                                                                                                                                                      PHOTO: KNIGHT FOUNDATION
                                        Riverfront’s Valade Park offers an urban beachscape.               Summit Lake’s barbecues, tables, and seating invite people to the shore.

                                                                                                                                                                                      PHOTO: CHERRY STREET PIER
                                        Ella Fitzgerald Park’s basketball court is a popular local draw.           Cherry Street Pier's informal artist studios draw in passersby.

                                                                                                                                                                                      PHOTO: GEHL
                                                                                                                                            Centennial Commons’ porch swings
                                        MOMENT’s active facade brings people to the other side of San Jose’s San Pedro Square.              echo the area’s historic architecture.

Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.                                                      According to Izzy Nelson, POBS                      visit these spaces in new ways.
Other community-responsive                                                            Community Engagement Manager
events have included line dancing,                                                    and a longtime resident of the                      At Detroit Riverfront, a one-time
mommy-and-me workshops, and                                                           neighborhood, “The more we were                     industrial area, “people didn’t
nature walks for local Black men.                                                     consistent in taking folks’ ideas …                 think anyone would come down
                                                                                      That was what built the trust and                   there,” says Rachel Frierson,
Some events draw big crowds;                                                          the foundation to then have people                  Director of Programming at the
a 2018 event focused on                                                               engaged and visiting.”                              Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.
“Inclusion, Equity & Environmental                                                                                                        “We were fighting the perception
Gentrification” drew over 300                                                         —                                                   of the Riverfront being a place for
people. More everyday events, like                                                    Adapting existing infrastructure                    people.”
Discovery Days — an outdoors day                                                      — a sustainable approach to
— draw about 50 visitors.                                                             construction — drove residents to                   Now the Riverfront is a popular

                                                                                                              25                                                          Adaptive Public Space
regional destination. Indeed, in                area. “I’ve seen a huge evolution
                                 September, a peak month, the                    of people who walk toward the        “Downtown San Jose is not known
                                 Riverfront’s Valade Park saw an                 river. Nobody lived down here and    for anything other than going to
                                 average of 10,164 people per day,               nobody came down,” says Jim          bars, a Sharks game, or work,” says
                                 and its Dequindre Cut saw an                    Abbott, artist-in-residence.         Angie Chua, a former MOMENT
                                 average of 3,000 people visiting                                                     tenant. “I held a workshop every
                                 per day, according to on-site                   MOMENT, too, invites visitors        other week and brought other
                                 sensor data.                                    to San Pedro Square to engage        makers in … including in the
                                                                                 with the space in new ways. By       evening, just as a way to activate
                                 The reimagined site now draws                   activating what was once a parking the space and bring new people in.”
                                 people from within and beyond the               garage facade that interrupted
                                 city who might otherwise head to                street life, MOMENT adds to area     Observational data also shows
                                 state parks outside city limits for a           vibrancy — with retail amenities     that MOMENT invites a more
                                 dose of nature. Indeed, along with              and public parklet seating for       diverse visitorship than the rest
                                 Philadelphia’s Cherry Street Pier,              passersby and shoppers.              of San Pedro Square — attracting
                                 it attracts more regional visitors                                                   more seniors and children, and a
                                 than any other project studied,                 —                                    more even split between male and
                                 according to survey data and                    Integrating arts and creativity into female visitors.
                                 analysis of social media content                design and programming led to
                                 at the site. “People are now seeing             more diverse resident engagement Cherry Street Pier — an arts-
                                 the Riverfront as a nature space                and civic expression.                focused project on Philadelphia’s
                                 within the city,” says Elena Newnell,                                                Delaware River Waterfront
                                 a volunteer.                                    MOMENT is helping imbue              — didn’t look to a high-design
                                                                                 creativity into the downtown area    museum for inspiration. Project
                                 Cherry Street Pier also saw a                   — such as through tenant-led DIY     leaders knew the space had to feel
                                 transformation in how residents                 workshops, some of which have        different from a typical museum
                                 engaged with the Delaware River                 continued in the pandemic as part or gallery in order to attract
                                 waterfront, a once-neglected                    of an open streets program.          the wider public. Retaining the
                                                                                                                      unvarnished look of the historic
                                                                                                                      pier and installing artist studios in

                                                                                                                      shipping containers helped ground
                                                                                                                      the space and drive engagement.
                                                                                                                      “Fine art spaces push people away,”
                                                                                                                      says artist-in-residence Sharif
                                                                                                                      Pendleton. “The space here is not
                                                                                                                      super polished, so people are more
                                                                                                                      willing to get engaged.”

                                                                                                                       This approachability shows up
                                                                                                                       online. The project had the most
                                                                                                                       active Instagram usership, with
                                                                                                                       posts highlighting art, architecture,
                                                                                                                       and interactive events. Murals at
                                                                                                                       Detroit Riverfront’s Dequindre
                                                                                                                       Cut were also a place for artistic
                                                                                                                       self-expression online. The art was
                                                                                                                       among the most popular content in
                                                                                                                       the site’s Instagram activity — with
                                                                                                                       many highlighting the movement
                                                                                                                       for racial justice.

                                  Cherry Street Pier hosts events like this Dia de Los Muertos mural-making session.

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                                                               26
CONNECTIVITY / Sites faced barriers to visitor access beyond their boundaries.

                                                                                                                                                         PHOTOS: GEHL

              Cherry Street Pier is separated from Old City by a major roadway;        Centennial Commons’ bike share and street crossings are a first
                Summit include
              connections Lake’san unwieldy pedestrian overpass.                       step in improving connectivity to Fairmount Park.
                approach changed

                                                                                                                                                         PHOTO: DETROIT RIVERFRONT CONSERVANCY
                city leaders’ approach
                to community

              The area around The Discovery Center could        Located below grade, Dequindre Cut’s Freight Yard faces visibility issues that have
              benefit from improved walkability to the site.    deterred some pop-ups from posting up at the site.

What’s Challenging                                         deterred pop-ups and food trucks                   the community can get there," says
                                                           from posting up at the spaces,                     Tonnetta Graham, President of
—                                                          and often leaves visitors asking                   Strawberry Mansion CDC, a local
Projects with barriers to                                  for more wayfinding, according to                  community organization.
physical connectivity beyond site                          volunteers.
boundaries faced challenges in                                                                  Moving forward, The Discovery
promoting access.                                          The Detroit Riverfront               Center is exploring how to better
                                                           Conservancy has responded            connect to the surrounding
                                                           through programming to introduce neighborhood — through physical
Projects varied in their level
                                                           more Detroiters to its spaces,       interventions like improved walking
of connectivity beyond site
                                                           and upcoming investments to          trails and signage, as well as
boundaries — hampered by basic
                                                           address connectivity challenges.     programmatic interventions like
walkability issues, unfavorable
                                                           The Dequindre Cut will eventually    neighborhood block parties and
positioning, and unwieldy                                  integrate into a 26-mile trail under street-corner birdhouses that
infrastructure barriers. Many                              development by the City, which will invite locals to visit the space.
of these challenges were out                               improve access and visibility to
of project leaders' control and                            multiple neighborhoods.              At Cherry Street Pier, decades-old
site purview, but represented                                                                   infrastructure inhibits walkable
challenges to access nonetheless.                          The Discovery Center is a serene     access. The site is separated
                                                           retreat at the edge of a one-        from Philadelphia’s Old City by a
Some projects face connectivity                            time reservoir, but slightly uphill  major roadway, making the Pier
challenges inherent to their                               from the core of its Strawberry      feel more like a destination than
physical positioning. The Freight                          Mansion neighborhood. For            an everyday amenity that can be
Yard at the Detroit Riverfront sits                        locals, the space can feel tucked    easily accessed. “Like many cities
below-grade, for example, giving it                        away. "If you’re thinking about the  we foolishly built an 8 to 12-lane
a hidden gem quality. This dynamic                         community, you want to make sure highway cutting off our hub of

                                                                                  27                                                        Adaptive Public Space
commerce and connection,” says          its neighboring Race Street Pier —
      Patrick Morgan, the city’s First        an open-air park. Project leaders'
      Deputy Commissioner of Parks &          efforts to invite in more users
      Recreation. To overcome these           through enhanced walkability,
      challenges, The Delaware River          wayfinding, and programming may
      Waterfront Conservancy is now           help capture some of the activity
      developing a $20 million multi-         on adjacent Race Street Pier — a
      modal trail to connect its sites, and   space that could seem more public
      transit wayfinding to connect the       to passersby.
      Pier to the Old City.
                                             For Detroit Riverfront, business
      Centennial Commons confronted          owners are also working to make
      connectivity issues early on,          clear their spaces are publicly
      by investing in traffic calming        accessible. According to Gregory
      measures and pedestrian                "JB" Sims, owner of Smokey G's
      connectivity with the adjacent         Smokehouse in Valade Park, "I
      Parkside neighborhood; the project have a lot of people who pass by
      also secured an Indego bike station and say, 'I thought you guys were
      on-site. Survey results indicate       cooking for a private event.' Some
      the investments are improving          people just didn’t know we were
      perceived access — 64 percent of       open to the public," Sims says.
      Centennial Commons respondents He's exploring signage and other
      found the space “very easy” to         tactics to invite the public into his
      access — compared to a cross-          Riverfront business.
      project average of 54 percent.
      Local leaders are continuing to        San Jose's MOMENT is a micro-
      invest in connectivity, through        retail concept and located in a
      an emerging mobility study and         downtown commercial district,
      planning process for the area.         which impacts the diversity of
                                             activities that can take place there.
      —                                      Indeed, only 18 percent of seating
      Presence of semi-public activity       on adjacent San Pedro Square is
      compelled project leaders to           public, and two of the top three
      explore how they could make their activities observed in the area
                                             focused on commercial uses.
      spaces inviting to all.
                                             Even still, MOMENT operators
                                             like SJ Made and its tenants are
      Detroit Riverfront, Cherry Street
                                             working to expand the invitations
      Pier, and MOMENT each balanced
                                             available to San Pedro Square
      commercial activities with the
                                             beyond shopping and dining. As
      need to ensure their spaces were
                                             the project has evolved, it has
      inviting to all.
                                             diversified activity to include more
                                             public programming — such as
      For example, Cherry Street Pier
                                             tenant-led DIY workshops as
      — while not a space dominated by
                                             part of a COVID-19 open streets
      private activity — is partly covered,
      is open during select hours,
      and includes a popular garden
      restaurant, which may signal it is
      private. Observational data indicate
      the potential impact of these
      factors on the site's visitorship.
      For example, in the 6pm hour,
      Cherry Street Pier experienced
      just two thirds of the foot traffic of

Knight Foundation & Gehl                                      28

                                        Consider ...

Quality matters — in design             Raising the bar for public space design
                                        and ensuring the design reflects
and materials, it shows
                                        community needs and identity, rather
commitment and makes                    than imposing a design aesthetic
a space more inviting,
comfortable, and interesting.

Consistent programming                  Taking the time to understand how
                                        community members want to use and
that meets local needs helps
                                        activate a space
draw people into a place.

Arts and creativity can make            Integrating locally relevant artistic
                                        features and arts programming into the
public space a platform for             life of the space
creativity and expression.

Transforming underutilized              Looking to neglected spaces and
                                        buildings as potential public space sites
spaces inspires locals to
rediscover what's nearby.

Attention to physical                   Funding a wayfinding and connectivity
                                        strategy early on, as part of the design
connectivity makes for more             process
lively, inclusive public spaces.

Semi-public and commercial              Balancing revenue-generating activities
                                        with creating an environment that is
activities add vitality, but            clearly open to non-paying visitors
can deter from inclusiveness
without thoughtful outreach.
                                   29                                   Adaptive Public Space
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