Tactical Urbanism Salon

Urban Interventions, Near and Far: Afternoon Sessions at the Tactical Urbanism Salon

The afternoon speaker session included a range of professionals from the public and private sectors, reflecting on a variety of urban interventions in Boston and around the globe. 

The first speaker of the afternoon, Ryan Harms from advertising agency ArnoldWorldwide , provided perspective on the role of private corporations in civic engagement. He introduced Outpost - a project to design and develop portable office space from shipping containers. He posed a question (and a challenge) to large corporations: how can placemaking tactics be used to retain and attract creative capital in Boston? 

Dan Bartman, from the City of Somerville Office of Strategic Planning & Community Development and co-Author of "Tactical Urbanism", addressed both top-down and bottom-up tactical interventions. Referencing Nicco Mele's earlier discussion of the potential role of technology, Dan highlighted crowd-funding (as well as crowd-lending and crowd-investing) as a key tool for implementing urban interventions on any scale. 

David Glick presented his research on European citizen urbanism. One example, a community garden in Berlin that operates as a flexible, quasi-public space - serving as garden, cafe, kitchen, restaurant, school, library, and performance space - broached the question, "should permanence always be the end goal?" 

Charles McCabe, from the Rose Kennedy Greenway, discussed the importance of place making in public green space. He highlighted the array of activities and interventions that have occurred along the Greenway - from food vending to art installations. Charles concluded with an invitation to contribute suggestions for interventions in an underutilized space, Parcel 12 near the North End, that engage people in public space.

Jessica Parsons of Circle the City, Boston's Open Streets Project, presented the organizations' successful efforts to provide public space for innovative, healthy and community-minded uses. Circle the City is a local example of the worldwide movement to temporarily reclaim street space that is generally dedicated to automobile use for walking, bicycling, games, commercial activity and socializing. Circle the City implemented four open streets in the last two years, and is looking for sponsors to continue their initiative in the future. 

Russell Preston, CNU New England President, reviewed the Kennedy Plaza project in Providence, Rhode Island, a collaboration with Union Studio Architects. A series of small-scale, temporary interventions, from temporary parks to beer gardens ("sanctioned drinking") gradually paved the way for a long-term capital improvement project on a historically underutilized downtown plaza. Russell concluded by emphasizing the value of connecting the design of space to place-making, and how short-term interventions can provide invaluable input for successful long-term developments.