Placemaking as a Social Movement: What if We Built Our Cities Around Places?

Ethan Kent, Project for Public Spaces (PPS)

Co-presented with the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney

Placemaking is a catalyst for building healthy, sustainable and economically viable cities for the future. Transformative approaches help people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities encompassing economic development, environmentalism, transportation planning, governance and design.

Ethan Kent


Ethan Kent is an authority in the practice of Placemaking, working to support Placemaking projects and organizations around the world through his work for Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a non-profit planning, design and educational organization. He will share his learning’s from his broad spectrum of Placemaking efforts, where he has provided comprehensive public engagement, planning and visioning for many important public spaces. Highlights have included: Portland Oregon’s Pioneer Courthouse Square; Times Square in New York; Kennedy Plaza in Providence, RI; Pompey Square, Nassau, Bahamas; Garden Place in Hamilton, New Zealand; and Sub Centro Las Condes in Santiago, Chile. He has also worked with some of the most high profile developments in the world to help maximize public space outcomes in Hong Kong, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sao Paulo.

His approach has had the most tangible effect in New York City where Ethan co-founded the NYC Streets Renaissance Campaign, as an effort to challenge auto-centric transportation policy and inspire a new public vision of streets as dynamic destinations including Times Square, 9th Avenue in Hells Kitchen, the Meatpacking District, Myrtle Avenue, Columbus Avenue, Petrosino Square, Union Square and Grand Army Plaza. The campaign and its demonstration projects have led to the creation of a bold shift in NYC transportation policy including a Public Plaza Program that is reclaiming street space for dynamic new public spaces throughout the city.

Introduction by Edward Blakely, Honorary Professor of Urban Policy at the US Studies Centre.