17. Use Public Space to Communicate

As Mark Rios described at last year’s ASLA Annual Meeting, “telling the story of a place is complex, diverse, and layered.”  Thinking about that this morning, with the HeForShe campaign celebrating Art Week today in conjunction with International Women’s Day, has me wondering how we can better use our public spaces to communicate our story.

Infrastructure -like buildings, street lights, even old phone booths – can be used to help functionally communicate importance and depth.  From immediate communication of emergencies through the use of coordinated street lights, or from the use of color on buildings to show solidarity, the use of public elements to better tell the story of place is a powerful tool that we can leverage.

Successful communities are measured by different metrics than what they were decades ago.  It’s not just schools and jobs, but we need to think about what attaches people to our cities: openness, diversity of opportunity, and aesthetics.  We communicate a lot of who we are through those elements, and whether or not people want to live or stay in a place is determined by those three drivers.  From that perspective then, we can use our public spaces to communicate our best selves. Today that’s celebrating along with the rest of the world: her voice is our voice.

Chase color


Chicago buildings



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