Creating Vibrant Public Spaces


7″ x 10″, softcover, 215 pages, Island Press.

SKU: CCV001 Category:


Good public space and street design can dramatically improve a downtown’s walkability, and enhance social and commercial activity.

In this very readable book, author Ned Crankshaw combines practical experience, compelling case studies, and design guidelines to help every downtown improve the quality of its public spaces while respecting their historic character.

The book draws examples mainly from smaller cities and larger towns, but the principles apply across a wide range of downtown districts. The design guidelines emphasize historic authenticity along with improvements suited to modern visitors, shoppers, residents, workers, and others.

Table of Contents

  1. A Philosophical Basis for Downtown Design
    • Prospect refuge theory
    • Historic districts, integrity, and authenticity
    • New urbanism and old towns
    • Streetscape design goals
  2. Space and Land Use Configuration in Historic Commercial Districts
    • Information sources
    • Patterns of change
    • Contemporary zones of land use and form
    • Place: Space and character
  3. Connections: Neighborhood and Downtown
    • The elements that create connectedness
    • Case studies: Lexington, KY; Danville, KY; Louisville, KY
  4. Walking Downtown: The Visitor’s Experience
    • Pedestrian movement in shopping centers
    • Pedestrian movement in downtowns
  5. The Arrangement of Parking: A Design Perspective
    • Integrated access
    • Parking organization and access models
    • Preservation and design criteria for access
  6. Streetscape and Public Space Design
    • Social space: Design for people
    • Authenticity and individuality
    • Design guidelines: Pedestrian paths; parking; lighting; trees;
      street furniture; public art; graphics, and signs

About the Author

Ned Crankshaw is an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Kentucky. He has written about streetscape design in historic commercial districts in numerous journals and magazines.


Read the Introduction


Creating Vibrant Public Spaces is guaranteed. If you are not 100% satisfied, you may return it within 30 days for a full refund.


“In this insightful book, Ned Crankshaw opens our eyes to the features that make downtown the kind of special place that people really care about.”
— Fred Kent,
president, Project for Public Spaces

“Crankshaw’s approach, recognizing and relishing each building, storefront, sidewalk, park or square space as an individual expression of the local people, opens the door to a new sustainability.”
— Richard Moe,
former president, National Trust for Historic Preservation