City of Boston Tactical Public Realm Guidelines
Utile worked with the City of Boston and the nonprofit A Better City to develop design and process guidelines for tactical activation of the public realm. The project began with an audit of existing City policies around parklets and sidewalk cafes, leading to an overhaul of the way the City approaches placemaking interventions in the public realm. To codify the new regime, Utile created a Tactical Public Realm Standards document which includes both design guidelines and a how-to guide to the process of implementing a plaza, parklet, outdoor cafe, or street mural.
The objective of the guidelines was twofold. First, the City has a policy goal of expanding the ways in which the public realm is used. An important part of this goal is encouraging public-private partnerships both large and small. In addition to setting the parameters for siting and design of a parklet or plaza, the new standards are aimed at making the process simpler and more transparent, in order to actively invite participation from neighborhood groups, small businesses, and deep-pocketed developers alike.
Equally important, the process of developing the standards required interdepartmental consensus-building that was essential for ensuring that the new standards would be adopted and promoted by the various departments involved in permitting.