2020 Merit Award

Analysis, Planning and Communications

Plaza Life Revisited

Manhattan, New York

Landscape Architect:

SWA/Balsley, SWA Group

Project Team:

Anonymous Data Scientist
Wade Zimmerman, Photographer


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About the Project:

This research project reconsiders writer William H. Whyte’s New York City Street Life Project and seminal study The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (1980). It sought to understand how the types of new public spaces have changed some 40 years after he published his book and companion film, what has changed in how people use public realm spaces, and what makes well used spaces. The project looked at 10 recent plazas in Manhattan by 10 different designers. The goal was to identify common behavior patterns, collective activity, programming, physical elements, and understand context across the sites in order to inform future public realm design. Findings and methods were published in a Field Guide to Life in Urban Plazas. This was a project from XL research and innovation Lab (XL Lab) at SWA Group and SWA/Balsley.

Images by: SWA Group, SWA/Balsley

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