In US cities ‘privately owned public spaces’ (POPS) are spaces, indoors or outdoors, that are owned and managed by the private sector and by law are accessible to the public without payment. In exchange for providing these ‘bonus’ spaces, developers are permitted to build larger buildings than would otherwise be permitted under local zoning ordinances. In actuality, POPS are not always easily accessible to the public and are often criticized for their exclusive character. Researchers have studied the variation in the design, management and use of POPS but without the benefit of an explicit operational definition of exclusivity. Nor, in recent studies, have they differentiated between the observed use of the space and features of its location, design and management. The study reported in this paper addresses these concerns. It outlines a series of empirical questions to measure exclusivity and presents findings from field observations of interior bonus spaces in Manhattan and from interviews with managers of these spaces. Levels of diversity of users and activities were higher than expected, resulting from particular design features and management practices. The observed group activities indicate that virtual communication, rather than detracting from face-to-face communication in public space, can support and enhance it.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Urban Studies