I recently learned about POP spaces. What are they? Privately Owned Public Spaces, hence the acronym POPS. These can be plazas, arcades, gallerias, even rooftop terraces that are free to the public yet owned an operated by private developers. And mostly nobody knows about them.

Usually the product of a deal between cities and private real estate developers in which cities grant zoning concessions and developers provide and maintain public spaces in or near their buildings, these types of spaces have been around since the 60’s in New York City. In fact NYC has one of the only extensive catalogs of public spaces apops.mas.org but other cities including San Francisco, Toronto, Seattle and Seoul are also compiling lists of these spaces.

As the Boston building boom continues, wouldn’t it be great to have a list of these spaces? Through reading articles like Architecture Boston’s “Boston POPS” I discovered that there is a 14th-floor observation deck at 470 Atlantic Avenue and Foster’s Rotunda on the 9th floor of 30 Rowes Wharf. In fact RadioBoston/WBUR took a tour of some of these spaces with Jerold Kayden, professor of urban planning and design at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Check it out!

Know any good ones in and around Boston? Share in the comments! It’s a start!


AUTHORED BY: Petra Geiger
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