Archive for January, 2012

The Project for Public Spaces, in addition to recognizing Great Public Spaces, also has a Hall of Shame.  Public spaces from all over the world that, in their opinion, fail to meet the basic requirements for good spaces for people.  It’s subjective of course, and when PPS inducts a place into the Hall, they typically receive many comments from people who disagree.  Then again, if you peruse their selections, it’s hard to argue against many of their picks.

Below are some random comments about different public spaces in the Hall of Shame.

“People have told us that a lot of people use this square as an open space on certain days. But sporadic use does not make a great square.”

“Hard to find, hard to see into, and unfriendly to navigate, this is not a park that was designed to encourage pedestrian access.”

“There are often lots of activities that draw people into the park, but it seems to do little good. Once the activity or event is over, people scatter, fearing they may be left alone.”

“Fences and walls meant to provide safety instead make the place feel like a cage – it’s forbidding to walk into. Benches have metal dividers; trees were seen as obstacles to visibility and so are limited and not optimally sited.”

Some of the spaces in the Hall of Shame look like good design on the surface.  Some obviously took a lot of money to build.  And yet they don’t work.

How do the spaces in your town work?  Do any of the comments above apply?  It’s a hard truth that many of our public spaces fail in their primary function.