Defining a public: The management of privately owned public space

Németh, J.

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Németh, J. (2009). Defining a public: The management of privately owned public space. Urban Studies, 46(11), 2463–2490.

This paper empirically explores the management of privately owned public space. It examines 163 spaces produced through New York City’s incentive zoning programme, whereby developers provide and manage a public space in exchange for fl oor area ratio (FAR) bonuses. Developers of these bonus spaces employ a variety of management approaches, each correlating with common theories of spatial control in publicly owned spaces. However, as developer priorities are often fi scally driven, most approaches severely limit political, social and democratic functions of public space and produce a constricted defi nition of the public. As such, privately owned public spaces have deleterious effects on concepts of citizenship and representation, even as they become the new models for urban space provision and management.

Main finding
The management approaches in bonus spaces examined severely limit the ability to have an inclusive and diverse public realm by allowing management to filter their users according to fiscal priorities.

Description of method used in the article
An index made up of 20 design variables was used to quantify how open or closed a space was and the degree to which behavioral control is exerted over users. The index was applied to 163 bonus spaces at 93 buildings in New York City in early 2007.

Of practical use

Organising categories