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Architizer Journal

Architects and designers are increasingly mindful of the value of public space and its role in the development of our buildings, cities and culture, especially as we begin to measure the impact of public space from New York’s High Line to Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro. Pioneers in the profession are proving that architecture can respond to, shape and transform these civic areas while helping to create community and inspire change.

The following examples of public plazas from around the world were created by a variety of different designers to respond to unique environmental, social and urban conditions. Though they share a common typology, they possess unique programs and contextual surroundings. While they employ different forms and options for circulation and contemplation, they also orient individuals to views, establish hard and loose boundaries, and celebrate the histories, conditions and culture of each place. Whether for civic empowerment or a little rest and relaxation, these plazas embody new, dynamic ways to think about architecture and public life.

Ribbons by Cliff Garten Studio, San Francisco

Ribbons is a landscape sculpture and plaza design for the Art and Architecture Program of the General Services Administration in San Francisco. A matrix of paving, seating, fountains and planting are inserted into the existing courtyard. The design carefully straddles a line between preservation and adaptive reuse.