Creating Placemaking Experiences the Right Way

  • Insights

Successful placemaking doesn’t only result from an intelligent, strategic tenant mix — placemakers must adopt a layered, holistic approach to create a competitive destination. It’s all about creating an authentic environment design with experience in mind. Outstanding placemaking occurs when the place, the brand, and the story intersect with the offerings and uses. We’re rounding up three spaces that deliver impactful on-site experiences:

Out of the Ordinary

Coal Drops Yard in London has created an ecosystem centered around community and connection — retail only makes up a third of the stores, while local amenity shops make up the rest. Centered around experiencing the unexpected, Coal Drops Yard comes to life in Victorian Brick viaducts that were once home to film sets, counter-culture artists, and some of London’s biggest raves. The essence of Coal Drops Yard “offer[s] an experience that’s out of the ordinary, that goes beyond a place to buy,” creating a place of creativity and connectivity.

Reforming Retail

The Galleries Lafayette Group is working to build an ecosystem in central Paris that offers visitors a blend of culture, dining, and new brands by building a community for the experientially-minded. With touchpoints around entertainment, arts, and creativity in the area surrounding its BHV Marais department store, this experiential destination opens up a network of inner courtyards and side streets that link BVH with the Galleries Lafayette Art Foundation. Stepping beyond creating transformative in-person retail experiences, the group is creating an innovative retail and service ecosystem to keep up with the evolution of consumption habits. Online and physical stores work hand-in-hand to offer shoppers unique and seamless buying experiences.

Activating the Arts

The Arts District is breathing new life into downtown Los Angeles, where developers are mixing retail and art curation with community. MADE by DWC, operated by the DTLA Women’s Center, is offering training and jobs for women transitioning out of homelessness. Formerly a Coca-Cola production facility, the century-old brick building has been repurposed as an enclave of innovation, a creative retail and office complex dubbed Fourth & Traction. Additionally, the Los Angeles Downtown Arts District Space (LADADSpace) is dedicated to providing affordable artists’ housing in the Arts District — creating a true community-minded destination.

Mike Smith, Streetsense’s Director of Real Estate, says “the difference between a great project and an average project is the details — even small-scale environments can be dynamic. It’s the difference between a collection of stores and a place where the community actually wants to be.” The difference is in the experience, that hard-to-define total impression a place gives a visitor. Places that get experience right are the places that weave experiences with brands and their stories — from purpose and public use to art, culture, and efforts that enrich the local community.


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