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This MIT publication defines the state of placemaking and the importance of the "making" in building community

Places in the Making documents the power of community engagement in the design of public spaces. Lead author Susan Silberberg, served as lecturer in urban design and planning at MIT at the time of publication, the research was funded in part by Southwest Airlines which has invested in placemaking projects across the United States since the release of the publication in 2013.


Placemaking is the practice of designing, creating, and programming public spaces around the needs and desires of the community of users. The research asserts that the placemaking process contributes as much benefit for community empowerment as it does for creating public spaces themselves, blurring the lines between laypersons and professionals to create a strong ‘community of makers.’


In the 1960s, a movement began which asked the question, ‘What makes a great public place for people?’ Those early placemaking efforts focused on listening to the needs and wants of users to determine the physical design elements needed to create good public spaces. Places in the Making reveals that in the half-century since that movement began, the ‘making’ of a place has become as important as the place itself – by engaging in the deliberative process of shaping public spaces, citizens connect with each other, forge relationships, build social capital, and engage with a diverse cast of individuals, institutions, and organizations. The engagement of community members, funders, public officials, and advocates also supports an expanding view of ‘community’ and creates a foundation for positive change and healthy communities.


Project type:

Community engagement, placemaking, speaking / innovation, urban design


Places in the Making: How placemaking builds places and communities


MIT research and publication by Susan Silberberg, with generous support from Southwest Airlines


October 2013

Project Type:

Community engagement, community revitalization, placemaking, speaking / innovation, urban design

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