In the report “Definition of Placemaking: Four Different Types,” MSU Land Policy Institute’s Mark Wyckoff details what placemaking means and the variety of its interpretations. 

Placemaking  – creating interesting places where people want to spend time – is a proven economic development strategy, but is often an amorphous concept.  The four types of placemaking outlined below all focus on creating an authentic sense of place, but differ in how they achieve those results. Knowing the different types of placemaking strategies will allow local leaders to choose the correct method for their communities.

Standard Placemaking
This is the most universal type of placemaking – and encompasses the traditional understanding of what placemaking is. Standard placemaking focuses on creating quality places where people want to live, work, and play. Standard placemaking initiatives include street facade improvements, park improvements, and events in town squares. This type of placemaking is broad and seeks to create incremental change that will result in an increase in quality of life in the long-run.

Strategic Placemaking
This type of placemaking, coined Land Policy Institute at MSU, is goal-oriented and requires cross-sector coalitions.  These projects are often geared towards attracting high-talent workers who are attracted to high-quality places.

Creative Placemaking
Broadly speaking, creative placemaking seeks to institutionalize the art and culture of an area, which creates a lasting sense of place for a neighborhood or community. Types of projects include public art installations, chalk art projects, and outdoor concerts.

Tactical Placemaking
The key of these types of projects are that they are low-risk, low-cost, and short-term. Often not officially sanctioned projects, these projects are commonly referred to as “guerrilla urbanism”, “pop-up urbanism”, “city repair”, or “D.I.Y urbanism”.