Sunday, November 25, 2012

Community Design Involvement through People Make Parks

What is People Make Parks?

People Make Parks (PMP) is a joint project of Hester Street Collaborative (HSC) and Partnerships for Parks (PFP) to help communities participate in the design of their parks. When citizens engage with government and weigh in on park design, government builds better parks, and the public continues to enjoy and care for places they helped make.
PMP supports collaboration in park design between invested communities and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks), encouraging a diversity of participants to lead in the creation of meaningful places.

Weighing in on a park’s design and celebrating the opening

In 2004, two Brooklyn moms learned that New York City Councilman Bill de Blasio had allocated money to renovate their beloved neighborhood playground, the place they went daily with their toddlers to meet, greet, and socialize.

Julie (left) and Amelia (right) at Greenwood Playground.
Wanting to have input into what the new park looked like, they took it upon themselves to start an informal survey of other park users, to find out what people might want in a new park.
For a few weeks, they observed playground use and interviewed park users – from young moms to teens to seniors – to understand how people felt about the playground. Through interviews and observations, they learned what park features people thought were problematic or unsafe, and which were popular and well-used.

Greenwood Playground before renovation.
After collecting their data, they set up a meeting with the Park Manager to discuss what they’d learned. Eager to make a difference, they even brought playground equipment catalogues, to show him what they wanted. That’s when they got their first lesson in park redesign.

Greenwood Playground awaiting new ideas.
The Manager explained that there were better ways than picking items from a catalogue to share with Parks the insight they’d worked so hard to collect. Instead, he offered to set up a meeting between them and the Park designer assigned to the project.

The same area today.
The Manager also suggested that, if they formed a Friends group, Parks would take their contributions more seriously. They were already deeply involved in the park, and had gotten to know other committed park users through their interviewing process, so starting an official group was a logical next step.  In 2007, Friends of Greenwood Playground (FoGP) launched.

The logo for Friends of Greenwood Playground.
Now, with six members instead of two, FoGP met with the designer.  That’s when they discovered that he wanted to install adult exercise equipment in the park, to make it more accessible to older park users. FoGP, however, told him that, according to what they’d learned, there was a greater need for improved children’s play equipment, and that the playground should be separated in distinct sections for younger and older children.

The older children's play area in the redesigned playground.
With that information, the designer went to work, and by the time the community met at the scope meeting with Councilman de Blasio, the Brooklyn Capital Liaison, the Park Manager, and the designer, FoGP members were thrilled to see that the community feedback they’d gathered had impacted the design, bringing it closer to what they had envisioned.
FoGP hosted a party to celebrate the new playground and bring more neighbors into the fold. One mom said, “We really felt ownership, because we’d participated in the design process, and the party was an opportunity to celebrate the new park we helped create.”

A painted bench at Greenwood Playground.
To ensure the new playground stayed clean and safe, FoGP organized a group of neighbors to lock it each night, and began hosting an annual neighborhood party in the park each Spring or Fall.  In 2008, they added programming, using a Partnerships for Parks Capacity Fund grant to launch Art in the Park, a free summer program of environmental and arts education for kids.

Art in the Park classes at Greenwood Playground.
Though the two moms who started FoGP have since moved on to other neighborhood projects, the group is still active, with a new set of parents working to bring programming and stewardship to the playground.
Friends of Greenwood Playground today
The moms of Greenwood Playground today: Alyson Campbell, Dari Litchman, Stacy Boyd, Jasmina Nikolov, and Lisa Origlieri, with most of their children.
From a pair of mothers hearing word of a capital project and navigating how to get involved, FoGP continues to make a difference in their community and, now, their even more beloved park.

Walking the neighborhood to learn what people want

In 2007, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation allocated $1.9 million to redesign and reconstruct James Madison Plaza, a small, triangular park in lower Manhattan, empty except for planter boxes, trees, and benches along its edges.
James Madison Plaza
James Madison Plaza
For a number of years, the park had been cared for by students from Murry Bergtraum High School’s National Honors Society, who twice a year planted flowers and organized cleanups for It’s My Park Day (IMPD).
The Community Board suggested using the money to bulldoze everything except the trees and start a new plaza from scratch. So for May 2007′s IMPD, 10 students – with help from Partnerships for Parks (PFP) – decided to learn what the community wanted for the plaza, before renovation began.
PFP staff met with the students to plan the input-gathering process. One of the first challenges was that most of the students were seniors graduating in a few weeks who had little time to prepare in advance or conduct complicated data analysis afterwards.

Students meet with PfP staff and the designer.
So staff decided that Voting Boards – large sheets printed with simple questions and pre-selected answers – would be the easiest and quickest way for students to gather information.
The students next met with the Parks designer to find out what she wanted to learn about the plaza’s use by the community. Based on that conversation, PFP helped the students create four 2′ x 3′ Voting Boards.
The day of the event, students set up a tent and sign to let people know about the Voting Boards. Given the plaza’s slow weekend traffic, they also split into groups to canvas the area.  One group focused on nearby residents.  Another targeted local business owners and employees.  And the final two groups stayed in the park to engage passersby.

Teens are important contributors to a People Make Parks project.
A few weeks later, the students presented the Voting Boards to the Parks designer and the Director of Manhattan Capital Projects. The designer liked that the boards were easy to read, quickly highlighted people’s preferences, and distinguished user group (e.g., business owners, students, passersby) responses with different colored stickers. The students also included explanations for the responses, based on their on-the-ground experience.

Counting the results from Voting Boards.
For example, the students learned that many people wanted more lighting in the plaza, which wasn’t one of the response options originally offered. Students explained that those requests came from nearby employees, who worked late at night and felt unsafe walking through the plaza after dark.
Those employees, as well as the high school students, also wanted tables in the plaza, so that they could eat lunch there during the day. One student noted that, “wherever there aren’t benches, there aren’t people.”
Although the Voting Boards documented only weekend use, the students’ familiarity with the park meant that they could inform the designer about weekday use too: from people doing tai chi at 6:30 a.m., to local workers and teachers gathering for lunch, to students hanging out after school.
A month later, the students helped again, by creating English- and Chinese-language flyers to invite community members to the scope meeting, the broader community input-gathering session that takes place before a capital project moves into construction.

Students talk to local residents and business owners to expand their outreach.
There, people added blue stickers to distinguish their input from the yellow and green ones gathered during IMPD.  The boards, combined with the scope meeting discussion, let people offer input about not only the park features they wanted, but also their broader visions for what the plaza could become.
In the end, the designer was extremely happy with the process, as were the students, who also learned about landscape design and public space through the exercise. And, whether they realized it or not, their outreach helped ensure that the new park accurately reflects the needs and desires of their neighbors.

Students created art work inspired by the Voting Board activity.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Transforming Plazas into Parks

The NYC Privately Owned Public Spaces program allowed developers to build taller buildings in return for creating public spaces.Many of these spaces are of no value to the public.

The below photos show a transformation of the POPS at West 57th St from a pretty much useless plaza into an urban park including a childrens play area.

The article I found these images on said "The community pressured for change". Beyond the community pressure it may have also been part of a deal that rather then the 24 hours a day that the plaza was required to be openm t he new park is allowed to close at night. This gives leverage to transform POPS  plazas into parks. 
see also:  Flatiron Plaza Active and Community Recreation Area Proposal

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Toy Libraries

Toy Lending Libraries are kinda  like book libraries  the main difference being  you take out toys instead of books. There are over 300 of these in the United States  but there are  none in Chelsea or for that matter Manhattan.

 By having a top library it will provide toys to Chelsea residents who can't afford the latest, greatest and expensive toys.


Toy libraries

Have fun, save money, build community

Marketing researchers have long studied how parents affect their children’s development of consumer habits and skills. A new study, co-authored by Pamplin College of Business marketing professor Julie Ozanne, focuses on the impact on children of parents’ support and use of toy libraries.
Julie Ozanne in front of a shelf of toys
Marketing professor Julie Ozanne
“Parents are a crucial socializing agent of their children in the marketplace,” Ozanne says. “Our study examines toy library patronage in an effort to better understand the processes behind this mediating role of parents, including how they counter what they see are detrimental effects of consumerism.”

An important community resource

Toy libraries originated in the United States but are more common today in Europe and elsewhere, says Ozanne. With a borrowing process similar to public book libraries, toy libraries can provide children with developmental tools for play and be an important community and social resource, she adds.

New Zealand vs. the United States

Ozanne and her co-author — sister Lucie Ozanne, a senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand — conducted the study in New Zealand, which has more than 200 toy libraries and about 4 million people, in contrast to the U.S., which has the same number of toy libraries and a population of more than 300 million. Their study was based on interviews with parents and children and observations of them at a toy library.
The study found that toy libraries offer multiple benefits for children, their parents, their community, and society in general. Toy libraries mean many different things to their users, Julie Ozanne says, “from being a good way to save money and have fun to a political act of conscience and a way to build community.”
For children, the benefit is clearly the toys, she says, but several children interviewed also cited the opportunity to play with friends when they visited the toy library.

Benefits for parents

For parents, the pleasure of borrowing was compared to the pain of shopping. Parents viewed the toy store setting, with its advertising and brands, as fraught with potential conflict and described toy shopping with their kids as a stressful task, full of begging, negotiating, directives (“don’t touch this,” “stay here,” “do this”), and struggles to control and limit their offspring.
Visits to the toy library were far less stressful. With little financial outlay at stake, parents gave their children significantly more latitude in borrowing toys. This freedom is aided in part by library policies that edit and restrict toys that might be controversial by local community standards: “Different libraries have different policies, but most select durable toys that are developmentally appropriate and avoid toys that might promote violence.”
Parents also encouraged their children to try toys and activities that challenged their strengths, explored underdeveloped skills, or developed new ones. Trying out toys sometimes resulted in a store purchase, Ozanne says.

Foiling marketplace messages, materialism, and consumerism

With the displays, packaging, and branding aimed at influencing purchases largely absent, she says, “toy libraries offer a foil to marketplace messages that parents fear will fuel their children’s potential for materialism and consumerism.”
Toy library patronage can be a “transforming political act” for many parents. “The most common political interest driving families’ use of the toy library was avoiding supporting a consumerist society and fueling materialism. Others included protecting the environment by reducing purchases or purchasing toys that are more sustainably produced.”
In addition, Ozanne says, parents believed that borrowing toys helps their children develop a different relationship to goods that is a counterpoint to overconsumption and materialism: “You can still enjoy something when it doesn’t belong to you,” one parent said. “Parents stress that the toy library teaches their children that goods can have value even without ownership,” Ozanne says.

Opportunities for social and civic engagement

Toy libraries also supply opportunities for social and civic engagement through volunteer work at the libraries, for example, and allow parents and children to socialize and form informal networks with other users: “The libraries directly build the social fabric of the local communities through ongoing social interactions, connections, and exchanges.”
Several parents, for instance, reported major and minor acts of kindness from fellow library patrons. One parent noted that volunteer work sends a potent message to children: “we’re teaching them, aren’t we, about looking after each other.”
Volunteers might also get to learn new skills as a result of their work, including community organizing, leadership, public speaking, fund raising, grant writing, toy repair, and web design. One parent-volunteer described how she was able to apply some of the skills she had picked up to her job. Thus, another benefit of toy libraries might be helping to develop human capacity, Ozanne says.

Creativity is possible with used toys too

Children also learn that they can be just as creative in playing with communal, used toys as toys they own, Ozanne says — that, as one mother put it, “toys can be just whatever a child is prepared to make of them.”
Toy libraries also educate children on the nature of citizenship. “Borrowing teaches children to share collective goods, take their turn, be considerate of the next user, and be good stewards by taking care of the toys.” Children “are regularly asked to think of other people as they borrow, use, and return toys,” she says. One mother explained to her daughter: “another family might need this.”

Three recommendations for public policy

The study makes three public-policy recommendations. First, more toy libraries should be created in disadvantaged communities, Ozanne says. “In a period of significant economic challenges and reduced government budgets, toy libraries may be one of the few good deals. They might be housed in existing primary schools, creating a bridge between the educational activities of teachers and parents. They can be run by volunteers and customized to meet community needs.”
Second, more toy libraries should be created for children with special needs. “Appropriate toys for play are particularly important for engaging children challenged by disabilities.” Third, a web-based clearing house should be created to document best practices and share resources. It might provide parent-generated toy reviews, webinars for training volunteers, methods for evaluating the impact of the toy library, and promotional materials to increase awareness of services.
The Ozannes’ study, “A child’s right to play: the social construction of civic virtues in toy libraries,” will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Public Policy and Marketing.


A manual for creating a toy library

  Ohio's Cuyahoga County Public Library has one of the largest toy-lending collections (700 toys and counting)

The Cuyahoga County Library System


 Image of girl with toy and link to pictures
A Catalog List of Toys   |   Pictures of All Toys


Our Toy Lending Service

Request a toy online just as you would a book, movie, or CD.
Search our catalog by Toy Title or the keywords
Toy Collection.”  Your toy will be delivered from our
Toy Collection Central to your local branch.
Want a toy today?  Browse the toy collection at our
Brooklyn Branch and take home the toy you choose!



  • You can pick up your toy at any of our branches.
  • Toys may be borrowed for up to three weeks.
  • Toys can be renewed like other library materials.
  • Late toys are fined 10¢ per day, per toy.
  • There is a limit of ten toys per cardholder.
  • For items returned damaged beyond normal wear and tear,
    fees will be assessed. The fee for lost, unreturned, or
    damaged toys is $35.00 ($30 plus $5 processing fee).

Doctor Bag with catalog link 
For further information,
call 216-749-9525
or ask a librarian
at a branch near you.


The toys in our Collection are organized in age-appropriate categories to help you locate the right toy for your child.
We have over 700 different toy titles from which to choose, including baby & toddler toys, building blocks, puppets, science & nature activities and much more. The Collection also includes toys adapted to assist children with special needs.
Besides online links at the top of this page, photo catalogs of our entire Toy Collection are available at all of our 28 Library branches.

We have over 700 different toys (with multiples of most) from which to choose in the following...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Increasing the variety of Recreation Activities in Chelsea/hells's Kitchen

Ideas for Increasing the number and variety of Public Recreation Opportunities in Chelsea/Hell's Kitchen

Active Recreation Activities 
Within a 1/3 mile walk we have a great deal of outdoor passive spaces available to cb4 residents, with the passive activity being sitting/eating/reading. A count is about 44 centralized sitting areas, plus another 10 stand alone park benches, for a total of about 54 areas. But we do very poorly on the metric of active spaces.A count of these areas is around 14 with 9 of theses locations offering just 1 or 2 active recreation activities. It is possible to add active recreation opportunities to these areas often at a very low cost. example a concrete table tennis table should cost under $5,000 installed per installation.
Flatiron Plaza Active Recreation Proposal
Indoor Recreation Spaces
Outdoor spaces are great during good weather but little used in the winter and inclement weather. We have extraordinarily few indoor active  recreation spaces for CB4 residents. The Chelsea Recreation Center and the Lovejoy Center are the only two free public spaces that we have so far identified.  Because of tthe lack of indoor childrens playgrounds  there are four private organizations in Chelsea that offer high cost indoor space opportunities , three of these are specifically fulfilling the need of indoor space activities that our public parks system is not providing. . As new affordable housing is built in CB4 it may be possible to work with the developers so that indoor public active recreation spaces can be included in these developments.
 Indoor Parks and Indoor Playgrounds
Community Gardens/Greenhouses
Community Gardens help create community. Hell's Kitchen has a good number of community gardens. Until the creation of the Chelsea Garden Club and the recently revived Alices garden  there were no public community gardens in Chelsea. There are no public community greenhouses that I know of in CB4. The Lotus Garden on the Upper West side is an incredible public community garden built on top of a parking garage as part of NYC's Privately owned Public spaces program. As new affordable housing is built in CB4 it may be possible to work with the developers so that community gardens/greenhouses s can be included in these developments. 
 Sky Parks Part 2
Age Friendly "Parks" and Senior Playgrounds
I know seniors who can barely walk, and who would be very happy to simply to have a bench on their block where they could sit and enjoy the outdoors. The NYC Citybench program provides the opportunity to request these (you can see one in front of the Fulton Center). Beyond the allocation we can receive under this program CB4 might also want to see about getting funding to install "A seat near every Street" in Chelsea and hell's Kitchen. Additionally outdoor Senior excersize equipment is now being produced that can allow seniors the opportunity to do excersizes while at senior centers or other locations. This equipment can be installed at relatively low cost. There is a underutilized space at the Fulton center that this equipment can be installed and there may also be room at/near  CB4's other senior centers. 
 Senior Playgrounds
  Senior Seating  
Secret Parks
There are far more outdoor Privately Owned public spaces (with seating) within walking distance of CB4 residents then there are DCP Parks. Due to the fact that many of these spaces were created without any obligation to have signage that they are public spaces, it often occurs that people will live practically next door to them and not know that the benches in the space are there for public use. There are several low cost ways to transform these "secret parks" into viable public spaces. One of them is the ParkChelsea/Park Hell'sKitchen maps
 The Secret Parks of Chelsea 
Toy Libraries
Toy Lending Libraries are kinda like book libraries the main difference being you take out toys instead of books. They can provides toys to Chelsea/Hell's kitchen residents who can't afford the latest, greatest and expensive toys. There are over 300 of these in the United States ( ), but there are none in Chelsea or for that matter Manhattan. New Zealand has 1 of them per 25,000 residents, the United States only 1 per one million residents. There are a number of locations in CB4 that a toy library could be placed. 
Toy Libraries


Benches vs Tables and Chairs

 Benches vs  Moveable Chairs and Tables

...Walking is the healthiest way to get around outside of cycling, and a third of New Yorkers do just that. But it's really hard to find a place to sit down.
 Janette Sadik-Khan NYC Commissioner Dept of Transportation

At Park Chelsea one of our primary goals is to have "A seat near every street". We  take this position for two reasons, one to create an age friendly Chelsea where senior citizens and mobility impaired residents can find a place to sit and relax outdoors without having to tre to a centralized park that may be some distance from where they live. The other reason is that no matter what your age you may get tired and want to rest and what you want is a seat as near as possible to your present location.    What kinds of seats do we recommend to meet this goal ? For sidewalks, due to  space constraints,  we recommend benches and you can see here the ones that have been installed as part of  NYC's Citybench program. 

For  areas with less spacial constraints  we feel a mix of benches and chairs/tables is optimal. Here's why based on the works of a number of social scientists.

Do people prefer moveable seating?
"In his classic 1980 study of the use of public spaces in New York City, William H. Whyte and his team of researchers used cameras to watch people and understand how they used the public places in the city. One of the takeaways from the film footage was that people like to sit in public places, and, far more fascinatingly, that if given the option they will almost always move chairs before they sit in them.
In his film, The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, Whyte shows this phenomenon in action.

Whyte, who passed away in 1999, saw this as a crucial aspect of designing good public spaces and parks – especially in a heavily populated area like New York City." link

Top photo, a railway station with seating meant to discourage conversation. Bottom a European sidewalk cafe with seating that encourages conversation
Several years ago, a talented and perceptive physician
named Humphry Osmond was asked to direct a large health
and research center in Saskatchewan. His hospital was one
of the first in which the relationship between semifixed-feature
space and behavior was clearly demonstrated. Osmond had
noticed that some spaces, like railway waiting rooms, tend to
keep people apart. These he called sociofugal spaces. Others,
such as the booths in the old-fashioned drugstore or the tables
at a French sidewalk cafe, tend to bring people together.
These he called sociopetal

The hospital of which he was in charge was replete with sociofugal  
spaces and had very few which might be called sociopetal. Furthermore,
 the custodial staff and nurses tended to prefer the former 
to the latter because they were easier to maintain. Chairs in the halls,
 which would be found in little circles after visiting hours, would
soon be lined up neatly in military fashion, in rows along the
walls. from: The hidden dimension - Edward Twitchell Hall

Note that the custodial staff liked the ones that were easier for them  to maintain, not the ones that were preferred by the people who would actually be using the seating.

 The psychologist Robert Sommer was asked by Osmond to learn about the relationship of furniture to conversations. Sommer studied the way people interacted over a 36 x 72 table...

 D                                     F


F-A Across the corner

C-B Side by side
C-D Across the table
E-A From one end to the other
E-F Diagonally the length of the table
C-F Diagonally across the table


Fifty observational sessions in which conversations were
counted at controlled intervals revealed that: F-A (cross corner)
conversations were twice as frequent as the C-B (side
by side) type, which in turn were three times as frequent as
those at C-D (across the table). No conversations were observed
by Sommer for the other positions. In other words,
corner situations with people at right angles to each other produced
six times as many conversations as face-to-face situations
across the 36-inch span of the table, and twice as many
as the side-by-side arrangement.
The results of these observations suggested a solution to
the problem of gradual disengagement and withdrawal of the
old people.


 Many have had the experience of getting a room nicely arranged, only to find conversation was impossible if chairs were left nicely arranged. -Silent Language


     As the works of these social scientists show  moveable seating creates  spaces which are far more conducive to social interaction. this fact has been been well known for over 40 years now, yet designers still create spaces with benches only. Why do architects still  design like this?   

Fred Kent at the Project for Public Spaces may have answered that question in his article "Who Does Design Really Serve"The point that he made was designers want to  create "great" designs that are meant to look good and  win competitions, and seem to be ignoring the fact that people are actually using these spaces.   

Welcome to Canada's "best" new public space. You can tell people are proud of the design, because no one wants to mess it up by actually using it. / Photo: Fred Kent 

 ACUI colleagues discuss visually stunning new facilities, designed by internationally acclaimed architects, which somehow “will not attract people.” We hear stories of both deeply traditional designs and modern high-tech motifs that may attract people to pass through them, but not to hang out in them. People may come in to grab a coffee or a sandwich, but they do not choose to spend time and interact with anyone else; they keep

 Here is another take...

Benches in parks, train stations, bus shelters and other public places are meant to offer seating, but only for a limited duration. Many elements of such seats are subtly or overtly restrictive. Arm rests, for instance, indeed provide spaces to rest arms, but they also prevent people from lying down or sitting in anything but a prescribed position. This type of design strategy is sometimes classified as "hostile architecture," or simply: "unpleasant design." Gordan Savičić and Selena Savić, co-editors of the book Unpleasant Design, are quick to point out that unpleasant designs are not failed designs, but rather successful ones in the sense that they deter certain activities by design.

Involvement and Participation
The concept of involvement and participation
underlies this whole report. It seems central to the
comments of all our consultants. Rand has
summarized the point when he says, "Designed
environments which are thought out. formalized,
and complete are usually lifeless' and
unapproachable because (a) they do not invite
interaction and modification to suit immediate
human needs; (b) they are unable to grow, develop
and become extended through human use. Human
habitation merely fulfills (for better or far worse)
the designer's conception of their potential
meaning rather than leading to the discovery
of new functions and new forms of interaction.
Oddly enough [he goes on to say] many environ-
sents which 'work' well for people meet few
if any, aesthetic criteria ordinarily employed
by designers." From New York, New York (1968)
 by Lawrence Halpern and Associates. 

I have to agree with both Kent and  Halprin. I see seating all the time that looks as if it were added to be a design element rather then  be optimized for the use by people. 
This spot in a coop in Forest Hills offers a great deal of seating which is nice and symmetrical and pleasing to the eye,  but lousy for actual social interactions by people. There is a great deal of open space in front of the benches but no way to use it by the seniors who live here. Management was asked by one of the residents to add a table and chairs in the space. They were not interested in the suggestion.

Here's another great looking design in the same area. I'm sure it helped sell the houses. But here's an interesting thing. Just before  I took this picture I also too a second picture just around the corner from this space.
 This family is having a gathering. They have chosen NOT to use the fine looking benches  around the corner, rather they brought out their own table and seating to use.

 “Given a fine location, it is difficult to design a space that will not attract people. What is remarkable is how often this has been accomplished.William H. Whyte

Getting it Right

“First life, then spaces, then buildings – the other way around never works.”
Jan Gehl from Denmark » Life must come before spaces, which in turn should come before buildings

The NYC DOT Plazas program has some of the best seating for social interactions that  I've seen.  In designing the program they consulted with the  architect Jan Gehl who puts people first, and the design of the DOT Plazas shows this. 

Flatiron Plaza seating link

 The tables and chairs in the above photograph are movable and randomly repositioned constantly. Does the space show a nice symmetrical pattern? No, rather the pattern one is of placement in positions of the street furniture in positions  that  really works for the intended users. 


99 Jane Street POPS in meatpacking District

It's interesting contrasting the seating in  this space to one of  the seating areas in the John A Seravelli Playground several blocks away. 

Must unguarded chairs walk off? here's another opinion...

  "In municipalities there's the sense that if it's not bolted down, it will move beyond the park landscape. Well, we see all over the city those little foldup chairs and they're not bolted down, they're not even chained," Price says, referring to the chairs added to pedestrianized plazas and street corners in Manhattan, such as Times Square. "They're on all the intersections throughout the whole Manhattan landscape right now and they don’t seem to be walking away." link

Whatever you call these chairnappings, there are subtle ways to prevent them. When Denver first put out sturdy green chairs with comfortable arm rests, thieves made off with 80 percent of them within 18 months. "They may have fit too nicely in a back yard," says John Desmond, who works for the Downtown Denver Partnership, a business improvement district. Recently, the Partnership replaced those chairs with ones painted either yellow or purple. They don't have armrests and people are likely to be ready to move on after about a half-hour. "We want them to be comfortable enough to sit in for a short while," Desmond says. "At the same time, we don't want them to be so comfortable that people take them home with them."

The intense focus on losing chairs is probably misplaced--fountains lose water and still they flow. And as park managers who've used movable chairs know, many more of them break or wear out each year than get ripped off. As Bryant Park's Barth sees it, movable seating should not be viewed as a fixed asset like a statue or a park bench, but instead as a commodity such as garden mulch or toilet paper that must be regularly restocked. "These chairs increase the social life of the park," Barth says. "You can't quantify that financially."   link

In Conclusion to quote the folks at Project for Public spaces....
Good public spaces give people a choice of where and how they would like to sit. They provide different types of seating options such as ledges, steps, benches, moveable chairs as well as different places or locations within the same area, such as in the sun, in the shade, in groups, alone, close to activity, or somewhat removed from activity. link

From UC Davis Study on Seating

Factors we found that contribute to comfortable places to sit in public space
include access, comfort, relationship to views, sun and shade, movability, and
ability to be together or alone.
• The Hunt Hall experiment found that movable seating is popular and well
used offering a low cost way to expand seating and social space. 70% of
people observed were utilizing movable chairs compared to fixed seating

• The movable chairs at Hunt Hall contribute significantly to the social life and
interaction of the building occupants. In addition, many students, staff,
faculty and visitors from other parts of the campus were observed using the
Based on the popularity of the experiment, the department bought and placed
an additional dozen movable chairs on the Hunt Patio in Spring 2010 with
more planned

Over thirty years ago, the sociologist William H. Whyte published The Social Life of
Small Urban Spaces, a landmark book on urban public space (1980). Based on detailed
observations of plazas and parks in New York City, it found comfortable seating to be
the primary ingredient to successful public space
. Whyte writes:
Ideally, sitting should be physically comfortable--benches with backrests, wellcontoured
chairs. It's more important, however, that it be socially comfortable. This
means choice: sitting up front, in back, to the side, in the sun, in the shade, in groups,
off alone. Choice should be built into the basic design. Even though benches and
chairs can be added, the best course is to maximize the sittability of inherent features.
This means making ledges so they are sittable, or making other flat surfaces do double
duty as tabletops or seats. There are almost always such opportunities. Because the
elevation changes somewhat on most building sites, there are bound to be several
levels of flat space. It's no more trouble to make them sittable than not to.
Whyte’s findings have been confirmed in numerous studies since in a variety of cities
and countries (Carr et. al. 1992, Gehl 1997).
The Project for Public Spaces (2010) in New York City proposes the following
guidelines for sittable space:
Good public spaces give people a choice of where and how they would like to sit. They
provide different types of seating options such as ledges, steps, benches, moveable
chairs as well as different places or locations within the same area, such as in the sun,
in the shade, in groups, alone, close to activity, or somewhat removed from activity

Hunt Hall Findings
People use and do move movable chairs. In fact our Hunt experiment shows that they
are constantly in motion. This is due to their inherent comfort and sociability including
allowing greater choice than fixed seating for sun or shade, be alone or together in a
group, talking with others, capturing the best views and sitting in hardscapes or green
People also sit in the movable chairs when they are provided. In a number of
cases individuals occupying chairs were joined by others on their way in or out of the
building. Indirectly, the existence of movable chairs increased socialbility in the outdoor

At Hunt Hall, despite the number of available sitting opportunities, considerable
number of users were occupying movable chairs (70%) than fixed seating (30%).
found outdoor seating to be primarily used by students but also by a large number of
faculty and staff from Hunt Hall and adjacent buildings. The majority were woman
users perhaps due to the current mix of landscape architecture majors housed in the
ground floor of Hunt Hall. Most of the movable chairs and fixed seating were used by
single users (72%) although some were used for group activities including talking,
eating and working on group projects. In some cases the chairs were moved to create a
circle for faculty meetings and to have lunch with candidates visiting for an open faculty
position in landscape architecture (See Figure 29). Most frequently observed activities in
the movable chairs were eating, reading, holding conversations and using cell phones.