Public Life: the shared experience of the city created by people as they live their lives outside of their homes, workplaces and cars.
Fostering and celebrating public life - by improving and activating public spaces, the ground floor and retail experience and ensuring human-friendly streets - is key to Midtown's long-term success and resiliency.
This is a pivotal moment for Midtown as we emerge from the pandemic and navigate changing relationships with urban living and working.
A people-first Midtown is key to tackling this challenge. Midtown Alliance engaged Gehl Studio to put a ‘public life lens’ on Midtown and take a fresh look at our current reality and opportunities. The process to develop an action plan included a broad array of field observations, measurement, benchmarking and feedback.
A multidisciplinary Steering Committee was impaneled to guide this effort, consisting of Midtown property owners, major institutions, higher-ed, arts and cultural attractions, residents, employers, real estate professionals, mobility professionals, city leadership and civic enthusiasts. This committee put together working groups to tackle specific areas of importance such as strengthening ground-floor retail, programming and activation, and leveraging activity centers.
Watch this space for the Midtown Public Life Action Plan to publish in April 2023.
Until then, we encourage you to check out these resources so you can get oriented to where the district is heading, and your role in it.
Watch a replay of Gehl Studio's Anna Muessig discussing Midtown's Public Life opportunity in her keynote address at the 2023 Midtown Alliance Annual Meeting:
Four Core Strategies
Muessig described the keys to realizing Midtown's potential for robust public life, which blend physical improvements with activation and programming strategies.
- Activate Public Spaces: There are not many public spaces in the core of Midtown and 94% of existing spaces are privately owned. Muessig suggests adding some creature comforts and activities to the newer spaces at the bottom of buildings to make people want to spend time there.
- Enliven Ground Floors: Street-level retail is the most direct way to enliven ground floors. The right retail mix is also critical to serve local needs, to add to street life and foster social connection.
- Soften Building Edges: Muessig said, "I think one of the steering committee members said it best: 'Don't make the bottom of the building look like the top of the building.' Having an interesting and human-scaled design at street level is critical."
- Foster Seamless Mobility: Having a safe and multimodal transportation network is a necessary component to attract and support thriving public life.
Watch a replay of Midtown Alliance CEO Kevin Green's district update and preview of the Midtown Public Life Action Plan:
More Opportunities to Plug Into Public Life
Learn more about Midtown Alliance's (Ad)venture Capital Fund, a pilot program that invites you to pitch ideas for street-level activations and enhancement projects in the district that are accessible to the public.
Read this op-ed on the importance of public life in Midtown, published in February 2023 in Saporta Report.
Check out our event calendar, filled with events and opportunities to explore the district and be part of Public Life in Midtown.
Public life will happen because we make it happen. All of us.
Whether you’re a property owner, small business, large employer or someone who lives here, works here, goes to school here or otherwise spends time here. You must determine that this is worthy of your time, efforts and resources.