What is placemaking?A timeline of placemaking initiatives at Wayne State.

Placemaking is a community-centered approach to transforming often underutilized spaces into dynamic places that improve a community's social, economic and physical well-being, and a core component of Wayne State's efforts to create a 24-7 campus and build connections within the campus and with our neighbors.

WSU Placemaking

Engaging community early and often is essential to good placemaking. This said, in 2014, OED began a listening campaign to engage WSU and Midtown community members about issues important to them via an online platform called Neighborland and in-person events.

In 2015, OED selected and implemented several small (aka LQC – lighter, quicker, cheaper) projects including: a Walk [Wayne State] campaign designed to encourage people to explore nearby destinations; partnering with the DIA Inside|Out program to place reproductions of the DIA's collection at sites across campus; and placing flexible public seating throughout campus to offer people a place to relax, study and socialize.

In 2016, OED continued to place flexible public seating around campus, coordinated a second Walk [Wayne State] campaign and raised funds to purchase and install holiday lights outside Old Main. Additionally, OED temporarily transformed Warren Avenue into a more walkable, bikeable, transit- and retail-friendly corridor by eliminating a vehicle lane in exchange for a dedicated bike lane and adding pedestrian "bump outs" to shorten crosswalks. The initiative known as Walkable Warren also featured sidewalk seating, a food truck rally and a pop-up marketplace.

Following the success of these initiatives, OED began planning Woodward | Warren Park in 2017. Seeing the need for a more welcoming campus gateway, OED raised $150,000 from public and private sources including more than 300 individual donors. The park was completed in 2019 and is now an inviting and accessible public space with shaded seating, native landscaping, an info booth, and more. The park also hosts the WSU Farmers Market on Wednesdays, June – October, and an annual pop-up holiday marketplace featuring WSU students and small, local businesses.

Looking Ahead

After a brief hiatus, OED is looking to re-launch the Placemaking Steering Committee in 2020 and execute several small (LQC) projects across campus. We are also seeking funding for 2020 Woodward | Warren Park programming, maintenance and seasonal decor. Programming will be informed by university and community partners, donors, and neighborhood happenings. Anticipated events includes regular welcome center staffing by OED and DXF, a weekly Farmers Market, DLECTRICITY installations and a 5th annual pop-up holiday marketplace.

Placemaking FAQs

Who leads and manages WSU placemaking initiatives?

  • The Office of Economic Development leads university placemaking efforts. However, placemaking happens informally throughout campus all the time! Chalk art, food trucks, and sidewalk events contribute to a place's vibrancy.
  • Facilities Planning and Management oversees campus space planning including The Wayne Framework (our campus master plan), maintenance and large design and construction projects (ex. AWD Apartments).

How can I get involved with placemaking?

How can I learn more about placemaking?

  • The Project for Public Spaces website is a great resource for all things placemaking.
  • Interested in careers related to placemaking? A wide variety of disciplines play an important role. Explore degrees in Urban Studies and Planning, Community Development, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Public Administration and Civil Engineering.

Are there any materials about placemaking at WSU?

  • View a convenient document summarizing our placemaking work here.

Placemaking at Wayne State