Event Venues

6 Great American Public Spaces — for Groups

All six on the list of American Planning Association's Great Public Spaces for 2015 can be rented out for special events.

Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa Park, San Diego

Last week, the American Planning Association (APA) came out with its annual Great Places in America list. Each year, the program recognizes streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces in the United States that exemplify exceptional character, quality, and planning and whose attributes enrich communities, facilitate economic growth, and inspire others around the country. The Great Neighborhoods, Great Streets, and Great Public Spaces of 2015 are noted for their amenities and infrastructure, cultural identity, and use of sustainable and innovative practices.

Hermann Park, Houston
Hermann Park, Houston

Six places were named in Great Public Spaces list for this year. “Public spaces are essential as gathering places and recreational venues in our communities,” said Carol Rhea, FAICP, president of APA, in a press release. “The Great Public Spaces of 2015 illustrate how to effectively create spaces that enhance the lives of residents and visitors alike….”

The half-dozen public spaces earning their spot on the 2015 list also have the potential to enhance the meeting-attendee experience: Each can be rented out as a special-event place for groups. They are:

1. Balboa Park, San Diego, California
2. Flint Farmer’s Market, Flint, Michigan
3Hermann Park, Houston, Texas
4. Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois
5. Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, Colorado
6. Santa Fe Railyard, Santa Fe, New Mexico

fountain at millenium park
Millenium Park fountain, Chicago

And for the second year in a row, the public will be able to suggest an additional favorite public space, neighborhood, or street to earn a “People’s Choice” designation. During the first half of October, individuals can offer suggestions via APA’s social media channels using the hashtag #greatplaces. APA will then select five finalists, after which the public can visit APA’s website to vote for a favorite. The winner will be announced in early November 2015.

Great Places in America was launched in 2007 — and Convene was thinking along the same lines at the same time. In 2008, Senior Editor Barbara Palmer interviewed Fred Kent, founder of the Project for Public Spaces, about how to make the kind of standout public spaces that engage communities.

Do you have a favorite meetings-friendly public space? Why not tweet about it, and tell us about it here in the comments? 

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.