1st Edition

Public Space notes on why it matters, what we should know, and how to realize its potential

By Vikas Mehta Copyright 2023
    268 Pages 134 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    268 Pages 134 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Public Space: notes on why it matters, what we should know, and how to realize its potential journeys a vast territory and presents a panoramic view of public space—an understanding from numerous disciplines—under one cover in an incisive and concise manner. As a dialogue between the social-political and the material-physical, the book brings together the key ideas that encompass the social, political, and physical issues in the making and experience of public space. The book is at the same time a primer and a progressive text. It makes the case for public space, digs deep into understanding what public space is, followed by three sections that present the inherent paradoxes, the possibilities, and propositions for a more meaningful public space. The book presents ideas in concise and approachable ways—from established tenets to new propositions—that are constructive and thought-provoking, with many that will challenge the reader’s preconceived notions. Students and scholars in the built environment disciplines and social sciences, public space managers, public and private sector practitioners, and civic leaders, but also residents who want to better understand and make an impact in their communities and cities will find Public Space to be a valuable resource.

    Introduction, 1. Why Care?, 2. What is Public Space?, 3. Paradoxes, 4. Possibilities, 5. Propositions


    Vikas Mehta, PhD, is a Professor of Urban Design, the Fruth/Gemini Chair and Ohio Eminent Scholar of Urban/Environmental Design at the School of Planning, College of DAAP, University of Cincinnati.

    "In this timely book, Vikas Mehta delivers a complex cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural narrative through a rich and elegant combination of texts and illustrations. This is a must read for all those committed to exploring public space—whether undergraduate or graduate students, planning and design practitioners, those who operate and maintain public spaces, or aspiring civic leaders committed to making the best use of public spaces in their cities."

    Miodrag Mitrašinović, Professor of Urbanism and Architecture, Parsons School of Design, The New School university, New York City

    "Vikas Mehta is seeking new commons through paradoxes, possibilities, and propositions on public space. This tour de force book considers a broad panoramic, and enlightening array of views on public space as a major interdisciplinary field within urbanism, a book that is at the same time a primer, guide, and a progressive book of rules. It is an insightful new guide that simplifies and demystifies the public space debate and affirms the value of good and just city life in the time of urban crisis. This book, like its author who is one of the leading authorities in urban design and public space, is innovative, clear, and able to open pathways to new ideas."

    Tigran Haas, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for the Future of Places, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Guest Research Scholar at LCAU, MIT

    “This is an important book on an essential but too often overlooked topic – the quantity and quality of a city’s public spaces. Vikas Mehta is one of our foremost scholars on public space, and here he writes beautifully on, as the subtitle suggests, “why it matters, what we should know, and how to realize its potential.” Too often, academic research focuses primarily upon the what and not enough on the why and how. This book makes the critical connection between all three, and thereby provides an invaluable guide for practitioners and civic leaders as well as students and scholars.”

    Michael W. Mehaffy, Ph.D., Executive Director, Sustasis Foundation; Research Director, Future of Places Research Network

    “As a concise, cross-disciplinary synthesis I know of no current competition for the book. For designers, managers, and advocates of public places, Public Space is a cogent introduction, a call to action, and articulation of its complexities and import. For scholars of public space it offers an integrated review of work from multiple disciplines.”

    Mark Childs, Emeritus Professor, School of Architecture and Planning, University of New Mexico

    "That it may work better when picked up and browsed than read front to back does not stop Public Space from achieving considerable scholarly value. The book is deeply grounded in planning history and theory, and contains an enormous volume of key ideas from across the urban design discourse. What’s more, Mehta voices a significant concern for the social, including contemporary debates around access and equity, crime and public safety. All of these could be confronted at greater length in a different book, but it’s something that they are included here at all, being (hopefully) communicated to an eclectic audience of urbanists and design professionals. If it even partly succeeds in the goal of sharing a wealth of ideas on this most important of human habitats across disciplines and professions, it is a worthy endeavor. Perhaps even a new model."

    Gordon Douglas, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and Director, The Institute of Metropolitan Studies, San José State University