Campus Martius Park in downtown Detroit is an example of the impact that lighter, quicker and cheaper placemaking efforts can have on a community. In 2013, PPS partnered with Rock Ventures, the Downtown Detroit Partnership and the Detroit Economic Growth Corp. to experiment with efforts that would make downtown a friendlier place for Detroit residents. With its location in the commercial center of Detroit, Campus Martius Park was the perfect location for placemaking efforts.
In 2013, PPS transformed the park’s existing lawn into The Beach at Campus Martius by bringing in truckloads of sand, colorful seating, umbrellas and a beach-themed bar and grill. The new design was complemented by the park’s programming, which included exercise classes, sandcastle building and live music performances.
Not only are more people enjoying this downtown space, but the Beach at Campus Martius is inspiring other measures of placemaking across downtown Detroit. Other public areas in downtown offered robust programming for the public, including Cadillac Square, Capitol Park, Grand Circus Park and Paradise Valley.
The spirit of “lighter, quicker, cheaper” placemaking is also evident outside of downtown Detroit. Residents of a community that was once considered a place desert – an area without any safe, meaningful places for residents to meet and interact – reclaimed an abandoned commercial building and adjacent gas station and created a community center. The Alley Project, located in southwest Detroit, offers arts programs and community programming in a repurposed alley. The framework of placemaking with an immediate impact has empowered Detroit residents and organizations to actively engage in the redevelopment of their city.