Design discussions: Creating active public spaces

At SERA, a group of staff passionate about design created Design Interest Group Integrated Thursdays (DIG IT for the acronym-lovers in us) to strengthen our dialogue about how design fits into our practice. At each event, staff is presented with a topic, given background, and asked to create a well-designed experience that addresses the topic’s real and hypothetical challenges.

bluebeam presentation at DIG IT

First, some background on the exercise.

In the latest DIG IT session, our group of architects, interiors and planning people were called on to “Activate This!” More specifically, they were asked:

“How do we as designers activate the connection that the buildings we design have with the city? We don’t usually get to control the program, sidewalks or adjacent zoning, so how can we affect this junction?”

After a quick look at how zoning codes and Design Review play a role in real-life public spaces, participants were given one of two handouts: one with completely blank street-adjacent programs, and the other with an empty pedestrian passageway between two randomized programs.


Staff sketched out their ideas and presented them to the DIG IT group.

Participants were asked to put pen to paper and exhibit the synergy between buildings and public spaces, privacy versus connection, and the strategies they choose to define boundaries.

How does our staff envision active streetscapes? Check out their sketches:



  1. You could involve a landscape architect

    • Shelby Schroeder says |

      Hi Pat,

      I failed to mention that one of our landscape architects, Nick Lavelle, was at the event too! If you want to participate, I would be honored to post your submission too 🙂

  2. Jessica Gracie-Griffin says |

    Great exercise. Thanks for the activity sheets.

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