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Great Green Places

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Green Public Spaces

Everyone can name great public places, such as parks, squares, and outdoor markets found in cities across the country. But what makes these places work? Why do people seek them out and congregate there in large groups? And what makes some of public spaces “greener?" In an effort to provide a “decoder ring” to reveal what makes these places so successful, the National Building Museum presents a series of mini-documentaries that identify the specific elements that help make Great Green Places. By “green” we don’t necessarily mean lush parks (although many of the featured places have successful landscape elements), but sustainable locations that meet five criteria:

  • Landscape: a place that is successful uniting site planning and landscape design
  • Mixed Use: a place that demonstrates a variety of retail, housing, and commercial uses
  • Sense of Place: a place that physically embraces its history and culture
  • Streetscape: a place that is pedestrian-friendly with activated public spaces
  • Transit Options: a place that encourages and supports multiple forms of transportation including subway, bus, and biking

Watch the videos in the Museum's Great Green Places series profiling green spaces in Washington, D.C.

Great Green Places: Dupont Circle


Great Green Places: U Street

Dupont Circle
Explore the green side of this popular circle in the heart of Washington, D.C.
  U Street Corridor
Explore how sense of place is key to U Street's "green" factor.


Great Green Places: Columbia Heights   Great Green Places Barracks Row

Columbia Heights
Explore how transit and mixed-use development has made for a revitalized, greener Columbia Heights.


Barracks Row
Learn how the activated public spaces in Barracks Row help to make it a green community.

It’s Your Turn—Tell Us About Your Great Green Place!

Now that the Museum has posted all of the films in the Great Green Places series, it’s your turn to be the director! Grab a video camera, or even your cell phone, and document the green public places in your community. Then upload your film to the National Building Museum’s "Your Great Green Places" Vimeo Group. You will need to join Vimeo—which is free—to upload your video. Films should be no longer than six minutes and should investigate what works in your local neighborhood’s “Great Green Place.”

Once you've uploaded your video be sure to plot it on our Great Green Places Map (coming soon!).

Never uploaded to Vimeo before? Here are some helpful links that will answer frequently asked questions:
How do I join Vimeo?
How do I upload a video?
How do I access the Vimeo help center?

Submit your video by February 15, 2010 for a chance to be selected for live screening as part of the Museum's participation in the DC Environmental Film Festival in March 2010. Judged by audience response and Museum staff, the top three film submissions will also be featured on the homepage of the Museum's web site for two weeks each in the spring of 2010.


Institute of Museum and Library Services     DC Flag

Great Green Places is made possible by grants from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Government of the District of Columbia, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.