Tactical Urbanism for Placemaking

Written by Dana Wall, Project Manager, The Street Plan Collaborative

You may have heard of Tactical Urbanism, the low-cost, short-term, nimble methodology for kick starting and advancing long-term projects related to street safety, public space, and more. What started as a guerrilla tactic for citizens to “take back their streets” has evolved into a sanctioned and sought-after project delivery process that’s used all over the world by cities, nonprofits, foundations, and neighborhood and community groups.

Street Plans project in Asheville, NC.

This practice of delivering “pilot” projects is employed to test infrastructure, accelerate the delivery of public benefits, and provide opportunities to support grassroots initiatives. For cities that want renderings in real time of future capital projects, the methodology offers them a way to iterate on the design of infrastructure, and evaluate its performance. For nonprofits and neighborhood groups, the low-cost nature of the methodology allows communities to take ownership of their built environment and build a constituency of support for ideas they’d like to see translated into reality. Harnessing the power of communities, as the local experts on their needs and desires, is one of the ways the methodology is most effective.

Street Plans project in Miami, FL.

Excerpt from the Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design.

As the lead stewards of the movement, and authors of the book Tactical Urbanism among other open-source guides like The Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design, urban planning, design, and research/advocacy firm Street Plans travels all over the world to help facilitate cities and community partners’ visions for placemaking and Tactical Urbanism, and help execute these visions. Whether it’s an art crosswalk, a parklet, an intersection treatment, or a bike lane, Street Plans coaches project partners through the capacity building that is required to plan for, execute, and steward placemaking initiatives.

Excerpt from the Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design.Excerpt from the Tactical Urbanist’s Guide to Materials and Design.In Miami-Dade County, Street Plans has launched a grant-funded program called the Miami-Dade Transportation Quick-Build Program, an ongoing collaboration between the firm, the county’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, and nonprofit Green Mobility Network to support community-driven Tactical Urbanism transportation and placemaking projects. After a four-month application period in early 2017, the program chose 18 projects ranging from crosswalks, plazas, artistic bus shelters, and intersection murals to implement, with Street Plans providing technical assistance and guidance for their implementation.

Street Plans project in Miami, FL.

The very first project implemented under the Quick-Build Program, called Plaza 98, has become a premier example of how Tactical Urbanism can help neighborhood groups anchor placemaking initiatives. In October, 2017 Street Plans, Miami REALTORS® , and the Greater Miami Shores Chamber of Commerce installed a 6,500 square foot pavement mural, designed by local Miami Shores architects, on NE 98th Street in Downtown Miami Shores that would demarcate a new, temporary public space called Plaza 98. Since its installation, Miami Shores, the Chamber, and partners have executed community events every second Saturday of each month, including fitness, music, food events, and more.

Plaza 98.

What started with less than $5,000 of paint, planters, and string lights has grown into a special place of gathering and community in Downtown Miami Shores thanks to a committed project team and enthusiastic community support. Now in its second year of programming, the project team is considering upgrades to, and iterations on, the space they’ve created.

Follow @street_plans, @mdtquickbuild, and @plaza98 on Instagram for more updates on Street Plans work, and to see more Quick-Build projects implemented with community partners. Be sure to keep an eye out for Street Plans’ next publication, Fast-Tracked: A Tactical Transit Study, a report documenting how Tactical Urbanism is helping cities address their transit issues, and advance transportation projects.