Steve Davies is a global leader, expert, and advocate for public spaces, placemaking, and public markets. Having formed the Place Solutions Group in 2018, his work takes him around the world as a consultant, facilitator, educator, researcher, and speaker. He also currently serves as President of the Placemaking Fund, a global non-profit that supports two operating programs to advance placemaking as a global movement: PlacemakingX and the Social Life Project
Steve joined the then-fledgling Project for Public Spaces (PPS) in 1978 and guided the development of the organization for 40 years as a member of its senior leadership team. Working closely with Fred Kent and Kathy Madden, Steve helped to build PPS into an organization with remarkable depth and influence. It was in this capacity that he became one of the world’s experts on public spaces and their contribution to the revitalization of cities and communities.
Today, much of his work as a consultant focuses on public markets and the role they can play in building community and how placemaking supports local economies. He advocates for stronger market policies around the world as an Affiliate of Market Cities, a program of Project for Public Spaces, Healthbridge Foundation of Canada, and Slow Food International.
With over 500 major projects on his resume during his long tenure at PPS, however, Steve has built a broad-based portfolio of transformative placemaking projects which have been catalysts for community revitalization in the U.S. and abroad. He is widely recognized for his extensive expertise in downtown urban design, transportation planning, and the design of mixed-use development projects.
Steve was instrumental in creating and launching many key initiatives at PPS, including PPS’s programs in public markets and transportation, the Bass Initiative for Innovation and Placemaking, and expanding the global reach of placemaking. With support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Steve's seminal work in the Czech Republic and the Balkans after the fall of communism set the stage for the growth of placemaking as a global movement. These and other programs have gone on to influence professionals, community advocates, and cities across the globe.
Since 2016, Steve has been Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture, Graduate Program on Placemaking and Urban Management. His popular course – Markets and the Micro-Economy of Places – explores how diverse forms of public markets, street vending, and other micro-economic activities contribute to the wider social, environmental, health, and economic impact of urban public spaces.
An inspiring and accessible speaker, Steve has introduced tens of thousands of professionals to the PPS placemaking process. He has co-authored and written many books and articles, including Public Markets and Community Revitalization, Managing Downtown Public Spaces, and The Role of Transit in Creating Livable Metropolitan Communities. He was a contributing writer to PPS’s second edition of How to Turn a Place Around.
"If you want to seed a place with activity, put out food."
William H. (Holly) Whyte