Artscape in Conversation: Project for Public Spaces

featuring Cynthia Nikitin, Senior Vice President
Monday March 31st, 2014, 1:00 PM ET

‘Placemaking’ is both an overarching idea and a hands-on tool for improving a neighborhood, city or region. It has the potential to be one of the most transformative ideas of this century.
-Project for Public Spaces

Since 1975, Project for Public Spaces has been a leader in strategies to create healthier neighbourhoods, towns, and cities through the practice of Placemaking. Working in 7 broad agendas including place governance, building community through transportation, and creating mulit-use public destinations, PPS has built an impressive portfolio of projects in over 3000 communities and 43 countries.

Tune in to hear from PPS Senior Vice President Cynthia Nikitin about how they approach Creative Placemaking  and for a discussion about some of their newest programs and projects.

More About Project for Public Spaces
Project for Public Spaces (PPS) is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. PPS' pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs.
PPS was founded in 1975 to apply and expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, PPS has completed projects in over 3000 communities in 43 countries and all 50 US states. Partnering with public and private organizations, federal, state and municipal agencies, business improvement districts, neighborhood associations and other civic groups, PPS improves communities by fostering successful public spaces.
Having been brought in to apply Placemaking in a broad range of contexts around the world, an increasing focus of PPS' work is in training and capacity building, often helping to build local Placemaking organizations. PPS trains more than 10,000 people every year and reaches countless more through their websites and publications.

Meet Cynthia Nikitin, Senior Vice President, PPS
Cynthia Nikitin has led numerous large-scale multi-sectoral projects during her twenty three years with Project for Public Spaces. Cynthia’s technical expertise stretches from the development of downtown master plans, transit facility and station area enhancement projects, to the creation of corridor-wide transportation and land use strategies, to the development of public art master plans for major cities, and the coalescing of government buildings, libraries and cultural institutions into civic centers. Cynthia is currently directing the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts focused on providing technical design assistance to rural communities and small towns across the United States. She is also a regular keynote speaker at public forums, training sessions, and public workshops around the world.

Cynthia is an expert in using placemaking to create safer cities and upgrade informal settlements in the developing world.  She is currently spearheading PPS’s alliance with UN-HABITAT and the Ax:son Johnson Foundation to create 300 great public spaces in cities across the developing world in fulfillment of a UN Habitat General Resolution that seeks to incorporate public space planning and programming as part of slum upgrading, gender mainstreaming, and urban regeneration projects. She has lead placemaking training initiatives for the City Council of Nairobi and the City of Johannesburg. The City Council of Nairobi has committed to creating 60 great public spaces in that city by 2017.

Cynthia is also a leader on using investments in walking and transit to leverage livability goals. She authored one of the first books on transportation and livable communities, has run more than 30 comprehensive transit and corridor planning projects, and recently completed a research project for the US Federal Transit Administration aimed at developing evaluation and engagement tools to assist low-income communities in becoming involved in the transportation planning process. Under contract to NYS DOT, she managed a three year TOD education and planning initiative for 8 communities along the Tappan Zee Bridge Corridor. Currently she is working to help revitalize two of New Jersey’s most distressed cities using safer places and creative placemaking techniques.

Cynthia has delivered keynote addresses at many US and Canadian Library Association events and the Alberta Museum and Americans for the Arts annual conferences.  She is an adjunct faculty member of Clark University in Worcester, MA and guest lectures at universities across North America, in Moscow, Russia, and South Korea.

Pru Robey, Director of the Creative Placemaking Lab at Artscape
As Director of Artscape’s Creative Placemaking Lab, Pru takes the lead in research and development for new projects. She led the research, partnership development and sector engagement process to build the vision and case for Daniels Spectrum (Regent Park Arts and Cultural Centre) and leads  research and pre-project  development for Artscape’s next major facility, a centre for creative sector entrepreneurship, Artscape Launchpad. She is also taking forward research, consulting, community and sector engagement to advance the development community cultural facilities in Toronto’s inner suburbs. Pru advises communities across Canada on cultural facility development and strategies to support creative placemaking and directs a suite of programs and services at Artscape designed to build the capacity of communities to undertake creative placemaking projects. She has extensive research and consulting expertise, and substantial experience designing and facilitating community consultation exercises. She is a leading expert in Creative Placemaking practice and has authored and teaches Canada’s only university level course in creative Placemaking for the University of British Columbia.
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