What is Your Favorite Public Space?

December 6, 2010

We asked you, our public, about your favorite public space. A variety of places in many settings that make us ponder the big and the small aspects that help us enjoy a public space.


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Piazza del Campo in Siena. © SkyDivedParcel.

Urban waterfronts like the Juan Aparicio Waterfront in Torrevieja (Alicante) by Carme Pinos. The connection between natural and artificial nature. The limit that allows us to think looking towards the infinite without leaving the dynamic urban surroundings. Interaction of two opposite conditions needed for the current human being.
—Alvaro Leonardo

Buena Vista, Colorado. Mountain views. White water rafting. Big, big blue sky. Every color of blue and far as you can see.
—Andrew Clark

I favor the Karmelitermarkt in Vienna’s 2nd district for the vivid and lively atmosphere it developed in an unpretentious neighborhood.
—Carmen Rüter

Lurie Garden in Chicago, a place that is, at once, of the city but isolated from it.
—Carol Coletta

Piazza del Campo in Siena. It is at the same time a plaza, a stage, a viewpoint and a stadium. They are all part of the city itself, fully integrated into its structure and monumentality.
—David Jimenez

The beach: it is the epitome of the tension between public and private. Dichotomy between exposing oneself half-naked in a public space and feeling comfortable.
—Edgar Gonzalez

Dujiangyan in Chengdu. A great sequence of paths, temples, and views of an amazing irrigation system built more than 2000 years ago.
—Iker Gil

Ocean Beach, San Francisco. Walking its expansive coastline helps put things into perspective. And the nightly bonfires are nice too.
—Jacob Comerci

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Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. ©

The Zócalo plaza in Mexico City. Its combination of monumentality and austerity creates a really interesting dynamic. To me it represents, maybe in an indirect way, the contrast of the two cultures, the indigenous and the European. Its mega scale provides it with an air of magnanimity and power. At the same time, its surface allows an incredible amount of activities, from political demonstrations, celebration of national festivities, and entertainment to commercial activities and food posts. I know it might have been by pure chance but nowadays its size is perfect for a megalopolis like Mexico City.
—Jaime Velez

Chicago River between Michigan Avenue and State Street. Dynamic place with 100+ years of tall building architecture plus a magnificent place to be.
—Jan Klerks

Harry Bertoia’s now destroyed installation of Sounding Rods (1975) within the sunken plaza of the Standard Oil Building (now Aon Center) in Chicago.
—Jason Pickleman

The one that still needs to be claimed; the one that is demanded.
—Javier Arbona

Barton Springs in Austin, Texas. It’s an extraordinary swimming hole that somehow feels both public and anti-establishment simultaneously. Built with public funds, managed with public funds BUT maintains a populist feel.
—Jeff Leitner

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T4 Madrid-Barajas airport. © Iker Gil.

Wicker Park in Chicago. I enjoy the tended gardens, eclectic loitering crowd, ample sunshine and great lunchtime seating around Gurgoyle fountain—not to mention it’s two blocks away from my office.
—Jessica Lybeck

Wacker Drive in Chicago, especially the area by the river. The architecture is fantastic, each building different and interesting–like the bridges-, sidewalks and streets are wide and it is an urban area that is not overwhelming.
—Jesus Rodriguez

Riding the ‘L’ on any CTA elevated line in Chicago. Simultaneously digesting the kinetic cityscape flashing by outside with the impromptu interactions percolating within.
—Joseph Altshuler

Airports. I like all of them for the way they do what they do. They are the intersection of government, civis, commerce, transit, theatre.
—Josh Cooper

Piazza Navona in Rome. I love the contrast of narrow streets leading into the large vibrant open space and the mix of locals and tourists.
—Julie Michiels

Market Square Park in Blacksburg, Virginia. Since Dec. 2009 when 32 tubas played seasonal music, the park and farmers market have become THE community gathering place for people of all ages and economic status.
—Kathryn Clarke Albright

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Millennium Park, Chicago. © Iker Gil.

Millennium Park in Chicago—Skyline views reflected in the “Bean”, kids playing in the Crown Fountain, ice skating in winter, summer concerts in Frank Gehry’s Pritzker Pavilion.
—Ken Byron

The ice skating rink in Millennium Park in Chicago. Full of people, activity, and great views of the city. Add some snow and Christmas lights, and it’s perfect for the holidays!
—Liz Potokar

The beach by Ocean Park in Puerto Rico. It is a place in the urban area to interact, watch and be watched, where wearing few clothes is appropriate!
—Maritere Rovira

Crown Zellerbach building site in San Francisco. Privately owned public space with great materials, proportions and access that requires contemplation.
—Michael Nicolson

– Dog run at Tompkins Square Park. Fido and Fifi are names of 1) pooches 2) drag queens 3) squatter punks.
– Crissy Field, San Francisco: former airbase remediated into bayside walking path… and the warming hut at the end of the trail serves good coffee.
– Fulton Street Mall: all of Brooklyn in the mix—hipsters, hiphoppers, street preachers.

—Mimi Zeiger

Any place that has not been affected by the human being. Natural in essence, nature as the purest public space.
—Nadia Ribas

Tian’anmen Square in Beijing. No trash cans, no amenities, no benches, no landscape, no art, no privacy. Some lighting, many security cameras. But it works.

There’s this fantastic perch, a parking lot at the end of the road at Montrose Beach in Chicago, that faces the most fantastic view of the Chicago cityscape. People look, or make out, or eat a sandwich, and everybody nods to one another in appreciation. And when the cops aren’t around, you can jump into the lake.
—Paul Mougey

Central Park in New York. Because of the mix of natural and built form that define the ultimate urban park, and the rocky outcroppings and native vegetation that give one a sense of nature in the midst of a dense metropolis.
—Peter Kindel

The Paris Arcades: a dream space and the hollow mold from which the image of the modern was cast.
—Richard Prouty

The sea. It is the only place in which you can still feel being surrounded by nature, without a crowd, without traffic, without industries. Each time I go into the water I realize how insignificant we are, the power of nature and how much we damage ourselves when the damage the sea.
—Ruben Russ

Chicago Lakefront Bike Trail, because of its access to the lake, access to the length of the city, and the beautiful views that can be had on it.
—Steve Kismohr

La Rambla de Catalunya in Barcelona. It’s a street, a plaza, a shopping mall, a gathering space, and a place of interaction for the citizens. The central area allows for a variety of uses and it can be crossed easily so the commercial spaces on both sides are easily connected. And, although it is designed, it doesn’t seem to be that way, everything happens in a natural way.
—Xavier Vendrell