Category Archives: Placemaking

  • "The Bridge" by Elena Colombo (2011); SteelStacks Arts and Cultural Campus, home to Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks (Bethlehem, PA)

Sounds, colors and people fill a Levitt lawn, infusing a palpable energy into an underused public space. More and more, public art—whether it’s a temporary installation, a permanent mural, or an interactive sculpture, to name a few—is becoming part of the Levitt experience across the country. Below are some of the exciting ways Levitt communities have embraced the multidimensional power of the arts in public spaces. Continue reading

Header-NADOLevitt Foundation Executive Director Sharon Yazowski is currently more than 3,000 miles north of our Los Angeles office, in Anchorage, Alaska—where this morning she delivered a plenary presentation at the annual National Association of Development Organizations Annual Training Conference. Using case studies from across the placemaking sector, including a selection from our own research, her session gave regional planning and economic development professionals from across the country a glimpse into the ways place-based initiatives, especially those involving the arts, can build social capital, strengthening communities in the process.

Screenshot 2017-06-16 14.24.54Inspired by this morning’s presentation, today we’re releasing the third installment of our “Research Recap” blog series, featuring posts that highlight a particular finding from our recently published impact study, and taking a closer look at “social capital.” The term refers to the value that is derived from existing within and being connected to social networks. While the term itself has been around for more than a century—and the practice, even longer—it’s becoming more prevalent in today’s lexicon, as more and more towns and cities recognize the importance of building a stronger and more cohesive community. Continue reading

  • UN Habitat and Minecraft teamed up to create Block by Block, a community participation tool allowing residents in underserved communities to play minecraft and create project proposals that reconstruct unused public space in their communities.

Placemaking places people at the heart of its process—empowering individuals by giving them an active voice in shaping the spaces around them, mapping and designing their own communities. This week, we’re highlighting a few fascinating placemaking projects from around the globe that illustrate the beauty of people coming together and creating a shared vision for their community.

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Summer has long been synonymous with outdoor concerts across the country. A simple search for “free outdoor concerts” yields hundreds of thousands of results coast to coast. Each year brings an increasing number of opportunities to experience free, live music in outdoor settings—from single concerts centered around a specific celebration like the annual Memorial Day Concert on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.; to coordinated events like Make Music Day, when dozens of U.S. cities celebrate the summer solstice through free music performances; to weekly concert series like Summerstage in parks throughout New York City and free Levitt concerts in towns and cities across America.

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Do you get together with your neighbors on a regular basis? If the answer is no, you’re not alone—according to a 2015 study, only 20 percent of Americans regularly spend time with their neighbors, and a third of the country’s population has never interacted with neighbors. At Levitt, we always encourage people to get to know one another, whether that’s through enjoying free concerts together or through other kinds of community-building activities.

That’s why we love the idea behind Neighborday, a holiday devised seven years ago by media company GOOD to inspire Americans to reach out to folks living next door and plan a communal activity. A block party is one idea, but GOOD offers several other creative ways to forge friendships and build community pride within our neighborhoods. Here are four activities that you and your neighbors can put together just in time for Neighborday on April 29!

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With the onset of spring on the horizon, fresh starts and new beginnings are on the mind. Today we’re turning our attention to abandoned railroad tracks around the globe that have been given new life as the cornerstones of urban parks.

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What better way for a work of art to reach the most people than through being free to view, open to the public and in an open-air setting? Many cities recognize the value of creating murals throughout their neighborhoods, engaging residents in art-making and boosting community pride during the process. It’s also an inexpensive creative placemaking option that works with the landscape already in place—all it needs is some creativity and paint.

With inspiration drawn from their surrounding communities, murals can vividly depict motivations and aspirations of the artists and community members who created them, as well as provide enjoyment for people simply viewing them. Take a look at some of these inspiring murals adorning Levitt cities across the country! Continue reading

  • Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec, Canada. Photo: Jamie McCaffrey

Many people think of winter as a time to bundle up in front of the fireplace, pop in a favorite holiday record and sip a cup of hot chocolate indoors. Public squares and streets all over the world, however, are bringing people out of their homes—even in freezing temperatures—through creative placemaking. Whether it’s by hosting an ice-skating rink, setting up an annual holiday market, or illuminating buildings with festive light displays, placemaking during the cold season draws residents and visitors alike outside to enjoy the winter ambience. That’s why, even in cities known for their snowy seasons and frigid air, you’ll find public outdoor spaces alive with activity.

Check out these real-life winter wonderlands in the slideshow above, and tell us about your favorite outdoor public spaces to visit during the winter!

Using Levitt music venues as case studies, research examines value of different impact measurement approaches and offers insights into arts-based strategies to promote social connectivity

As interest in measuring and understanding the impact of arts investments in community development continues to grow, a new study released in November, Setting the Stage for Community Change: Reflecting on Creative Placemaking Outcomes, offers insights for the field of “creative placemaking” and is a working illustration of what can and can’t be learned from different impact measurement approaches.  Continue reading

Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles, before and after Agence TER’s proposed redesign

Right here in the backyard of our Los Angeles office, we’re looking forward to some exciting changes in one of downtown’s most iconic public spaces—Pershing Square!

Situated in the heart of downtown’s core, this central, accessible and sprawling five-acre park has the potential to become a vibrant hub of downtown community life. With renewed energy and interest growing in downtown Los Angeles, the 150-year old Pershing Square has been identified as a public space that’s ripe for activation. Continue reading