The Place Man documentary

“The Place Man (2024) is a documentary produced and directed by Guillermo Bernal that explores the roots of the placemaking movement through the life of Fred Kent, who has devoted his life to creating public spaces for people. The film begins with Fred sharing his passion for understanding why people feel good and how that can be translated into designing public spaces that foster a sense of social connection and community.

The documentary takes us on a journey through Fred’s life and work, starting in New York City during the urban crisis of the 1960s and 1970s. During this time, Fred started a street academy for high school dropouts and worked on environmental issues, coordinating the first Earth Day in New York City in 1970. Fred was part of a group of people exploring bigger city ideas during what he calls the Golden Age of public space research, including Jane Jacobs and William Whyte. His collaboration with Holly Whyte studying public spaces laid the foundation for his future work in Placemaking.

The film follows Fred’s journey with the Project for Public Spaces he founded in 1975. The organization studies people’s behavior in public spaces and recommends creating more engaging, lively places. Fred’s philosophy is simple: public spaces should be designed for people, open, inclusive, and full of life. We see examples of Fred’s work transforming public spaces, including Bryant Park in New York City and Campus Martius in Downtown Detroit, and his belief in the power of Placemaking to bring people together.

What makes this documentary so engaging is Fred himself. He is not some larger-than-life character but a humble and compassionate person who believes in creating spaces that foster community. Throughout the film, we witness Fred’s enthusiasm for public spaces and his deep conviction that planning cities for people and places is essential for taking on the bigger challenges we face today.”

Watch on Youtube HERE