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Plazas for People Project Evaluates Privately Owned Public Spaces

As our city continues to rapidly grow and develop, public spaces are becoming increasingly valuable places to pause, converse, rest and refresh. To better understand the usability and design of our public spaces, we evaluated 46 public spaces in greater Downtown this past summer. Read our findings and assessment of these spaces by downloading our Plazas for People document.

Focusing on Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) while using tools from the Gehl Institute, we found that 43 percent of the assessed POPS received “Average” scores, while only 15 percent score as “Good”. We’ve found that among the many types of POPS, plazas were the best performing.

Half of the sites ranked in the top ten are recent developments, built in the last two decades. Four of these five sites are in South Lake Union, where the neighborhood has an open space requirement for office buildings, stipulated through the Seattle Land Use Code. The code standards are augmented by the SDCI Design Review process to fine-tune the design results of these private plazas.

Our new report from OPCD includes recommended features and elements that would improve the usability of existing public spaces, whether public or privately owned. Based on the relatively high performance of newly developed spaces, OPCD will seek opportunities to encourage similar public space development throughout Greater Downtown and/or citywide in relevant zones.

Read more about Plazas for People on our Outside Citywide website.