Nearly every public project conducted in the United States incorporates some form of public outreach. Today, in an increasingly global and digital era, traditional public meetings often fall short of reaching the increasingly diverse and information-saturated citizens of today’s American cities. Or, the efforts fail to incite the interest required to achieve the long-term buy-in for planning and design strategies that’s needed to see a project through to successful implementation.
Successful projects, on the other hand, leverage the process of outreach into sustained interest in outcomes. Public process participants, in the most ideal scenario, become the champions of the project through the long road of implementation and the ever more daunting challenge of ongoing governance. In this way, engagement becomes a critical path toward both project realization and design excellence.
Inspired by an academic exploration at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in the spring of 2012 and launched this week by Sasaki’s Urban Studio, the Currents: Engaging volume illustrates five recent innovations in public outreach as it related to the design and construction of public spaces. These are defined as process-as-event, on-the-ground, real time, early wins, and accessible materials. Each concept posits an alternative to the traditional public meeting format and is reinforced by a series of notable case studies in which outreach was a critical component of the design. READ MORE >>