rp/PLACE/ is a planning and design consultancy based on the insight that intervening powerfully at the earliest stages of visioning, planning and design is the truest path to delivering projects and programs of lasting value. Established by Rick Phillips in May 2017, rp/PLACE/ applies this insight to the critically-important “front end” of complex urban design, landscape, infrastructure, transportation, engineering, and urban development opportunities.
The work of rp/PLACE/ is grounded in revealing the visions of communities, stakeholders, and clients to create livable, resilient environments that nurture and inspire while sitting lightly on the earth. The services of rp/PLACE/ are directed primarily at cities and other public agencies; at engineering, architectural, and planning firms that also serve this market; and at select private and non-profit entities at work in generating a future of sustainability and abundance.
Great projects begin with great ideas, visions capable of inspiring clients and communities and acting as a guiding hand through all stages of project development and completion. Visioning starts at the very beginning of any great enterprise, as clients and stakeholders work together to reveal their passions and speak their desires and needs into existence. We specialize in the collaborative process of visioning for public agencies, community organizations, stakeholders, private clients, and planning and design consultants responding to calls for service.
At rp/PLACE/, we practice visioning as a distinct realm, or world of activity, within the greater universe of planning and design. What happens in this world is dependent on the particularities of each client, community, stakeholder, or project – there is no "one size fits all." However, all visions start at the same place: ideas begin as thoughts in the mind and only take wing when spoken into existence. Shared ideas are then shaped into visions through experimentation and collaborative conversation.
In general terms, visioning applies at the following three stages, keyed to points on the "path of service" that all projects follow from inception to completion. We invite you to contact us to explore how the process of visioning can best be structured to serve your highest goals and aspirations.
Stage 1 – Facilitation and Consensus – The process of visioning is grounded in facilitation, the act of creating a welcoming space inside of which diverse stakeholders are empowered to be fully self-expressed and heard. All too often, the goal of consensus-building is to reach a place where all participants, despite differences, can "live with" the outcome – this we term the "lowest common denominator." We aim higher, at the place where all stakeholders, even in necessary negotiation, fully embrace a collective vision. In our work, great projects emerge from the "highest common denominator!"
Points of ServiceClient: Program development, early planning, initial project description, project goals and objectives, initial stakeholder engagement. Consultant: Pre-award outreach, proposal and interview, post-award conceptual planning and design.
Project ExampleThe George S. Eccles 2002 Legacy Bridge – This award-winning bridge for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics took form through an intense series of visioning workshops that considered a host of iconic bridge types and variations, resulting in a broadly accepted, dramatic cable-stayed design.
Stage 2 – Conceptual Planning and Design – Conceptual planning and design is the bridge from vision to outcome. During this most-critical phase – engineers call it "Preliminary Engineering", architects call it "Schematic Design" – the soul of a new project is revealed. The best conceptual plans and designs transform visions into tangible, inspirational, pragmatic, and actionable projects, so that visions are authentically expressed through design development, final design, and construction. We perform or facilitate exceptional conceptual planning and design, the necessary and natural extension of our visioning talents.
Points of ServiceEngineering: Conceptual design, preliminary engineering. Architecture: Conceptual and schematic design. Environmental Planning: Draft environmental impact analysis.
Project ExampleSan Bruno Station – After a year of intense community-driven visioning, the signature visions of the client and community were delivered through a comprehensive conceptual design process, followed by close monitoring and coaching during final design and construction. The project's award-winning design is the clear expression of the project's original visioning notes, plans, and sketches.
Stage 3 – Strategic Intervention – Even the most well thought-out and broadly-supported projects may encounter roadblocks on the path to visionary completion, due to pressures as diverse as client/stakeholder misunderstandings, financial challenges, political and organizational shifts, and newly discovered "on the ground" conditions. Harnessing our special abilities in visioning, facilitation, and design, we step-in to grapple proactively with roadblock issues, clearing and restoring the visionary path. We have intervened successfully in all modes of design and construction, including the challenging and volatile world of design-build.
Points of ServiceEngineering and Architecture: Design development and final design. Construction: Issues that block progress, particularly when negotiated design changes can lead to resolution while preserving or enhancing the vision.
Project ExampleTaylor Urban Interchange – The interchange's multiple award-winning design is the result of a novel design idea introduced after final structural engineering was completed. The "signal arch" that crowns the interchange was a low-cost strategy to create an iconic historic reference (requested by the City of San José) to the site of the city's first settlement, without redesigning the interchange itself.
The following Acrobat (PDF) resources are available on OneDrive – please click below to view or download these files:
rp/PLACE/  - The Power of Vision – Similar to this page on website.
Selected Public Works Portfolio - 1989-2021 – Similar to Selected Public Works section on this website, but includes more projects.

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