Public Space Challenge

Deepening Miami’s connection to great public spaces

CLIENT: The Miami Foundation
PROJECT AREA: Miami-Dade County
STATUS: Ongoing
TIMELINE: March 2014 - present



Many public spaces in Miami-Dade County are underutilized and disconnected. Residents often underestimate the critical role they play in shaping all aspects of the public spaces in their community. Even when residents are actively engaged, they may find the process of advocating for and implementing public space improvements confusing or inaccessible.



The Miami Foundation and Urban Impact Lab share an unwavering commitment to both civic engagement and great public spaces. The Public Space Challenge is an ideas competition that uncovers the best concepts for improving, activating, and creating local public spaces. The Challenge runs annually and invites all community members, organizations, and agencies to contribute ideas for great public spaces in their community.  Each year the Foundation, in partnership with sponsors like Target, invests up to $305,000 in winning ideas, to achieve the ultimate vision of having a vibrant public space within a 15 minute walk of every Miamian.


Urban Impact Lab works annually with The Miami Foundation to shape and implement the Public Space Challenge. As trusted partners, the Urban Impact Lab team helps guide the Foundation’s investment, advises and implements outreach strategies, develops local partnerships, and supports implementation of funded projects.

During the open submission period, Urban Impact Lab leads outreach efforts through strategic partnerships development, creative workshop design and facilitation, and broad engagement.

After the open submission period, Urban Impact Lab works directly with applicants and final winners as expert implementation partners.  As partners, Urban Impact Lab provides guidance on how to approach a public space project so that it benefits the entire community, identifies necessary permits, creates an implementation plan and budget, and provides access to resources for successful project implementation.

When necessary, Urban Impact Lab has created supplemental tools such as a local permitting guide or helped connect Public Space Challenge winners with deeper implementation support.


  • Assistance to The Miami Foundation in steering an annual $305,000 community investment

  • Implementation & expansion of the annual challenge for over 5 years

  • Development of strategic partnerships as well as outreach and engagement strategies to reach nearly 2.8 million Miami-Dade County residents

  • Expert guidance on project development and implementation to nearly 300 combined Public Space Challenge finalists and winners

Public Hives,  Public Space Challenge Winner

Public Hives, Public Space Challenge Winner


Since 2014, Urban Impact Lab has worked with The Miami Foundation to successfully implement and expand the Foundation’s annual Public Space Challenge. Each year, the Urban Impact Lab team helps attract a growing number of submissions, nearly doubling the number of submissions since the Challenge launched. In 2018, 492 idea submissions were received from residents, organizations, and agencies across Miami-Dade County.

During the open submission period, Urban Impact Lab designs and facilitates 4 to 5 free, creative workshops across the county aimed at helping any interested resident in submitting a public space idea to the contest. In all, the team has directly reached hundreds of residents.

Sabrina’s Adaptive Beach , Public Space Challenge Winner

Sabrina’s Adaptive Beach, Public Space Challenge Winner

Once the open submission period has ended, the Urban Impact Lab teams continues its work on the Public Space Challenge by engaging and assisting more than 50 finalists each year in preparing a work plan, determining the feasibility of their project, refining their logistics and scope, guiding them through the permitting process, and best positioning each finalist to implement their idea if they were to win.

An average of 20  winners per year are selected from the program’s finalists. The Urban Impact Lab continues working with each winner to ensure they have the information and support necessary to successfully implement their projects.

Gayle Zalduondo , Public Space Challenge Winner

Gayle Zalduondo, Public Space Challenge Winner


Over several successful grant cycles, Marta and Irvans with the Urban Impact Lab have served as the catalysts and pillars for the Miami Foundation’s Public Space Challenge (PSC) initiative. The Urban Impact Lab Team has guided PSC applicants as they activate and focus on our City’s precious public space. The Lab’s success with taking public space initiatives submitted by energetic residents and bringing them through to fruition is as an art.

-Kevin Kirwin, Director, City of Miami Parks Department

This is more than just a disc golf course, this is about building community.

-David Hazim, 2015 Public Space Challenge winner

Looking to engage communities around a particular issue or prototype a solution to an urban challenge? We’d love to help.

Learn more about participating in the next Public Space Challenge