Public Space Fanatic

Product and Ideas for Public Space

Walking vs. Pedestrian



Photo courtesy of NCHNAPD

Photo courtesy of NCHNAPD

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) has begun a new campaign which seeks to rebrand the word “pedestrian” to “people walking.” The new campaign also seeks to use the term “walking” to be an inclusive term for all kinds of human powered mobility involving people of all abilities.

The new campaign makes perfect sense given that “pedestrian” in it’s original meaning alluded to drab or dull or plain. Traveling by foot or walking these days are anything but pedestrian. In a complete street environment, there are wide sidewalks, street furniture, cycle tracks, parklets and shade trees to create pleasant walking experiences.

As cities and development teams move towards more housing density with mixed use projects and walkable destinations, the walking experience should be further enhanced with outdoor fitness trails, community gathering spaces and more nature. We’ve already seen an explosion of bike sharing programs, bike parking and cycle tracks because of renewed interest in mobility and health.

With neighborhoods becoming attached to bus and rail connections and retail district filled with sidewalk café’s and parklets, walking has become a lot more fashionable. And a lot healthier for everyone and anyone regardless of age and ability interested in physical activity.

This new campaign also seeks to redefine walking since movement may be propelled by any combination of arms, legs, feet and hands along with other support devices like canes, sticks, walkers, and skateboards.

Moving forward, we should experience more people walking since walking is good for us in so many ways.

Transit Oriented Development Conference

Interlude Passenger Shelter

Interlude Passenger Shelter

Join public transportation officials, transit operators, public space and mixed use development companies at the TOD Institute conference scheduled for September 27 -29 in Washington DC.  Be sure to stop by the  Streetscapes Inc display space to talk with us about bus and transit shelter, public seating, streetcape furniture and amenities for all types of public spaces.


BBQ Grills Anyone?

BBQ Butch Grill

BBQ Butch

Traditional public park bbq grills are usually either a round pit in the ground surrounded by a metal band or an elevated square or rectangular cast iron metal box.  The BBQ Butch grill changes that dynamic.  Constructed of cast stone and designed in a trapezoidal shape, this is an elegant grill.  Three grills placed side by side will wrap an outdoor park chef into a cockpit of grilling bliss with prep, grilling and display space.

Butch Community Table

Butch Community Table

The matching Butch community table mimics the shape of the BBQ Butch.

Bring on the smoke and sauce.

ICSC Western Conference and Deal Making

Snug Play

Imaginative Play Elements for Kids

It’s show time at Streetscapes. During the next couple of months, we’ll be traveling the U.S. attending industry specific trade shows and conferences. We kicked off our traveling this week by visiting ICSC in San Diego.  At the Western Conference & Deal Making conference, we are highlighting artistic bike racks, new bike parking – the Veloport and 33 Bike Locker, the Bike Depot, Snug Play (interactive play components for play zones) and turnkey water fountains.

Products attracting major attention at the Deal Making Conference – Recycled plastic tables and chairs with color accented slats, portable casual seating, solar charging stations and wayfinding information displays.

Next month, we head to Washington DC for a Transit Oriented Development and Mixed Use Conference. On display, we’ll have contemporary bus and passenger transit shelters, waiting area seating – both interior and exterior, shared work stations and power charging stations. At the DC show, we’re also going to be focused on casual and public seating, LED lighted benches and logo featured site furniture.

Best comment at todays’ event – This is the coolest contemporary site furniture we’ve ever seen. We agree – our mantra is distinctive furniture and site amenities for public spaces.

Wanted? Main Street, Public Space or Streetscape Challenges!


A friend and I are in the process of outlining a presentation for an association meeting in September. Our target audience contains city manager, main street executive directors, economic development managers; chamber event planners and business improvement districts. We’ve both attended conferences where speakers told us what we should be doing, but few offered details on how to do what they were telling us we should be doing. So we’d like to take a different approach and offer a hands-on presentation where attendee bring specific public space activation challenges that need resolution.

We know that fundraising or lack of budget is always an issue, but there are better people qualified to discuss those issues. We’d like to focus on the streetscape and public spaces – How to improve their appearance. How to populate public spaces with people. How to activate public spaces during different periods during the day. How to create public spaces that are multi-generational. How to generate enthusiasm and support for capital programs to improve public spaces and how to create public spaces that are unique and different than the neighboring communities.

We have some ideas on how we might structure such a presentation but we’re interested in other ideas and opinions. What are some of the challenges you’re facing regarding streetscapes and public spaces that could use attention. Send us your comments on the issue and provide a photo or video of the space in question. Also tell us what you’d like as an end result.

Public Space Fanatic is the blog of Streetscapes inc.  Join the Streetscapes Inc. mailing list.

Snugplay at Denver’s Meet in the Streets

Snugplay Interactive Play Elements

Snugplay Interactive Play Elements

This past weekend Streetscapes Inc. set up a demonstration play zone  at Denver’s Meet in the Streets.  Meet in the Street is being used as a planning tool by the Downtown Denver Partnership, RTD and Denver Parks to identify potential ways to engage Denver residents and visitors along Denver’s 16th Street Mall.

Our demonstration project featured four distinct zones –  a kid play space using large interactive play elements from SnugPlay and an imbarimba ( a musical instrument from Freenote Harmony), – two seating areas located on the edge of the play areas ( a Rune bench, a custom surfer bench and a North Lakes bench), – folding tables and chairs (Original Bistro) and two Pillow chairs under shade canopies for resting, relaxing and refreshments and a bean bag toss game for anyone interested. The seating area was completed with the K-base and Milk casual seating. The area was bordered with two Wilshire fiberglass planters and two Urban fiberglass planter filled with Toto Lemon Rudbeckia, Crocosmia Lucifer and Veronica sunny Border Blue perennials.

The large interactive play elements used in the play zone were a hit with both kids and adults. The youngest kids to play in the area were 14 months old. The oldest were the adults who either played with their kids or reverted back to their own childhoods. We had several families that visited the play area both days bringing additional family and friends along.  Here’s part of several conversations that we overhead in the play zone – Mom.. Justin it’s time to go.  Justin … Why?

The Imbarimba were played by a wide spectrum of age groups that included kids, teens and adults, individually and as groups. Wheel chair bound visitors managed to get some riff’s in too. Some musicians played for a few seconds, others for minutes at a time.

The bean bag boards had a  variety of gamers – both kids and adults.  Some who  were avid players, other that were just beginners. However, the combination of players were exciting to watch – fathers and sons, mothers and daughter, women and men; husbands and wives, girl friends and male friends. Some kids tossed the bags into the game board from a feet away.

Visitors to Meet in the Streets used the shade canopies and seating area to catch their breath, take a break from the 90+ degree weather, hold conversations with friends and watch the bean bag game competition.  Having seating on the edge of the play area allowed parents to watch their kids play, visit with friends, check their email and just relax.

The fiberglass planters and flowers were an experiment on our behalf to create an additional point of interest.  We specifically chose the  Crocosmia Lucifer because of it’s unique appearance. We wanted to determine if anyone would notice.  The experiment was a resounding success.  Visitor along the mall did notice the plants. Many visitors shot photos of the flowers or copied information from attached plant cards

Based on feedback from Meet in the Street visitors and the kids who got upset about leaving the play zone, our play zone was an unqualified success.

WSJ Off Duty Fold Scores



The Wall Street Journal in it’s Off Duty section July 16 and 17th highlighted “Fold Scores” – Portable and Stackable folding chair for indoor and outdoor entertaining.  They concluded that their stylish and non-generic chair put the cool in collapse. We beg to differ.  The Fermob Original Bistro chair put the cool in the collapse.  View more deck, pool and patio seating.

Flower Pot Materials

Boulevard Planter System

Commercial grade flower pots and planters are usually available in five different materials – concrete, fiberglass, GFRC, thermoplastic and wood. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Concrete planters are made of concrete cement. Concrete plant pots are excellent for use in applications where durability and longevity is important. They require minimal maintenance and can double as security barrier. In high wind zones and coastal areas, concrete planters are the planters of choice.

Fiberglass flowerpots are made of glass fibers in single or multiple layers of chop strand mat that is held together with polyester resins. Gel coating is added to the fibers and resins and the process is completed by coating the planter pots with polyurethane enamel or ??

Fiberglass planter pots are ideal for interior and exterior applications and the material of choice for decks, roof gardens and balconies where weight is issue. Created using form shaped molds, customized or creative fiberglass planter may be configured into unusual shapes, styles and sizes.

Glass fiber reinforced concrete – GFRC – flower containers are made with Portland cement, glass fibers, sand; water and a combination of color and polymer curing additives. The interior of GFRC flower receptacles are dampproofed while their exterior may be sealed or unsealed depending on the specified finish.

GFRC flower pots weight approximately 1/3 the weight of concrete planters but provide the heft and scale that is expected in large outdoor projects. GFRC planters share many different style in common with fiberglass planters.

Thermoplastic flower receptacles are made of rotationally molded low linear density polyethylene and contain ultra-violet inhibitors to prevent cracking and crazing. The lightweight pots are easy to handle during installation and durable enough to move around without chipping or breaking. Outdoor thermoplastic pot are value priced and are easy customizable in large quantities.

Traditional wood planter boxes usually consist of containers or boxes made with wood planks. In a break with tradition, commercial grade Boulevard wood planterboxes consist of an inner waterproof fiberglass liner wrapped with an outer layer of environmentally friendly and sustainable thermally modified wood. The sustainable wood is resistant to decay, twisting and warping and it designed to last for 25+ years of service.

In applications where traditional wood plank planters would be placed in-line end to end, against a wall or in corners, the Boulevard planter system allows one to select the planter sides that should contain wood panels. This feature can significantly impact planter and project costs without reducing the associated visual impact.

To view commercial grade outdoor planters, visit Streetscapes Inc.

Join our mailing list for fabulous street furniture ideas.


On and Off Street Bike Parking

Aspen Bike Shelter

On and off street bike parking is definitely on the rise. Along with the rise in bike parking, there’s an interest in more creative and interesting bike racks. Along main street, inverted U hoop rack were the default standard. Fast forward today, we’re seeing cycle racks that create words and phrases, promote café’s and restaurants brands, brand shopping districts and market museums.

In the early stages of on-street bike parking, multiple hoop racks were combined via u-channel rails to create freestanding bike corrals. The desire to create bike parking that was more interesting led to bicycle corrals designed to look like cars, later fish and now you can let your imagine run wild. On street bike parking once again has transformed it’s self into more interesting objects – a string of bike looking bike racks, paper clips and other interesting objects.

One tool in the off street bicycle parking equation that has been missing is the combination of bike corrals and bike shelters. Cyclists are interested in the combination, but finding pre-engineered shelters designed for the urban environment can be tricky. The current bike shelter offerings tend to be bulky and un-inspired and their limited sizes can be a challenge.

But the Aspen, Pergola and Vizor pre-fabricated bike shelters may be changing that scenario. All three shelters have contemporary urban aesthetics. The Aspen and Pergola feature woodgrain aluminum powder coating that is quite suitable for upscale communities and historic districts. The Vizor stands out as a beacon of architectural design.

Another option that appear to have limited interest but could double or triple the amount of bike parking in high-density bike parking areas is the marriage of vertical and two tier bike parking systems with bike sheds. Vertical bike storage is being used extensively in apartments, condominiums and offices but has had limited success in other environments. Many standard bike shelters on the market will accommodate vertical bike parking.

On and off street bike parking is very much in demand.

Self Watering Planter Irrigation Systems

self-watering-planter-irrigation-systemStreetscape planters and city flower pots located in public plazas and right of ways have a problem.  The flower pots are planted in the spring with the hope of adding color, texture and greenery to an otherwise dull looking street. However, unless they’re provided with an ample supply of water during the growing season that won’t happen.

Flowers planted in a plant pot without an irrigation system are at the mercy of volunteers or an irrigation service company. Volunteers are not alway dependable and lose interest over time. Irrigation services are expensive if you can find them.  High local temperature swings compound the issue. A possible solution – retrofit existing planters with an internal water wicking irrigation system or consider a planters system similar to the Seacrest planter collection.

The system consist of a water reservoir(s), a sensor, a water tube for filling the reservoir and an overflow tube that is placed over the flowerpot drain hole.

To retrofit an existing planter with a wicking irrigation system, remove the existing soil and install the wicking irrigation system. Refill the planter with soil, fill the water reservoir with water and prime the system to get the process started. Once the system is working, Add plants and let the growing season begin.

Moving forward, the water wicking irrigation system in each planter pot will require new water only once every two to four weeks depending on your location.  The overflow tube will drain any excess water. Here’s a water wicking flower pot irrigation system at  work.

The planter water wicking irrigation system is available in three different configurations.  A retrofit kit systems to accommodate rectangle, round, square planters in standard planter sizes. A round and square edge back modular version for large or unusual shaped planters. And a self contained water wicking planters with the irrigation reservoirs built into the planter walls. The self contained planter are available in rectangle, round and square shapes.

Get  a jump start on the upcoming growing season by installing self water wicking planter systems today.

« Older posts