• Artwork by Andee Mazzocco, Saygrid

Civic Infrastructure Research and Summit

PennPraxis, the engagement and consulting arm of the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, has published a new white paper entitled Civic Infrastructure: Sustaining and Sharing the Value of Parks, Libraries, and Other Public Assets that calls on practitioners, advocates, funders, designers, and others involved in civic asset redevelopment to think about the unfolding of projects at multiple scales (site, system and policy), over a longer timeframe, through an “ecosystem” lens highlighting the importance of partnerships.

Using interviews and case studies, authors Elizabeth Greenspan, PennPraxis Senior Researcher, and Randall Mason, PennPraxis Senior Fellow and Associate Professor of City & Regional planning, identify some of the leading challenges and opportunities of reinvesting in our cities’ shared civic places. In looking at a nationwide sample of varied parks, libraries and public spaces, they observed “a national trend among cities to ascribe immense expectations upon these civic asset reinvestments.” The authors also found that “governance determines how well a civic asset reinvestment project engages across site, system, and policy-based scales.”

The publication is the second in a series funded by the William Penn Foundation. The first Civic Infrastructure paper proposed the concept of an “ecosystem” of physical buildings and natural places, leadership and organizations, funding, and more.

PennPraxis also published the paper’s full bibliography and five auxiliary reports on specific areas of practice including:

The release of Civic Infrastructure: Sustaining and Sharing the Value of Parks, Libraries, and Other Public Assets coincides with a three-day Civic Infrastructure Summit organized by PennPraxis that takes place June 14-16 at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. The summit will bring together practitioners, officials, funders, scholars, and field leaders from across the country to discuss their work creating and reinvesting in civic infrastructure. The event is moderated by Greenspan, Mason, and Cara Ferrentino of the William Penn Foundation.


Randall F. Mason, Associate Professor, Historic Preservation
Elizabeth Greenspan, PennPraxis Senior Fellow
Julie Donofrio, Managing Director
Molly Lester, Associate Director - Urban Heritage Project, PennPraxis
Michael Fichman, Researcher, Lecturer