Public Square, New York, United States
FXCollaborative

The future of automated vehicles is coming. While we don't know exactly what that future will look like, most experts agree that driverless cars and increased car sharing will mean less parking on the streets. Narrower traffic lanes and more efficient traffic patterns will mean that traffic will need less road space too. Space on our streets that was once used for cars will become available for something else.
 
Public Square was created to provide New York City a way to rethink its streets and reclaim space for pedestrians, and can be implemented in virtually any other city. Public Square is a plug-and-play system of interlocking unitized squares, roughly 8 feet by 8 feet in size, with built-in infrastructure and a wide variety of surface module programs from seating, to retail stands, to play equipment, to gardens and green space. This allows endless configurations and adaptations to suit the particular needs and desires of each block of each city. Public Square is an additive solution, secured to existing curbs and street beds, providing the armature for streetscape transformations. The system allows for easy access to utilities and works with existing drainage paths.
 
Parklet programs have proved successful at transforming parking spaces into public spaces in cities across the United States. These have generally been small scale interventions, done piecemeal, and often on a temporary basis. Bike share systems worldwide have shown that street infrastructure can be designed in a unitized, flexible, easily deployable, and removable way. Public Square builds on these successes, bringing that systemization to the parklet’s many public realm benefits, expanding on the idePba with a broad range of program modules.  
 
The potential of Public Square in different cities and environments lies in its flexibility. Each interlocking square can be deployed in former parking lanes one piece at a time or in grouped configurations. Because Public Square modules can be easily installed and changed, they can be used to incrementally transform streets, or to modify them as needs change. In addition, Public Square has environmental and technological benefits, and can help create greener, more sustainable cities by providing biofiltration of stormwater, and reducing the heat island effect.
 
We see the widespread acceptance and use of driverless vehicles as an imminent transition and an opportunity to reclaim road space for pedestrians that was ceded to automobiles during the 20th century. No one knows exactly how driverless cars will change the way we live. Public Square allows the public realm to be responsive to changes in how we drive, however fast or slow those changes happen, and can be configured to meet the needs cities today, and reconfigured as technology advances.  Recent developments have demonstrated the positive social impact inherent in pedestrian-oriented cities, and the early stages of transition to driverless cars is the best time to act on these lessons. Whatever the driverless future looks like, Public Square can help cities shape that future for a greener, more walkable, more bikeable, more lively public realm.

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