Guillermo Bernal

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Great places need anchors; they need small areas that are full of activity and things to do. Places do not require a lot of plans, but actions.

Bio

Guillermo Bernal is a leader in placemaking, known for his locally and globally transformative work. He is an active Board Member of PlacemakingX.

Guillermo's passion for placemaking is evident in his work as the director and producer of the documentary "The Place Man (2024)," which explores the movement's roots through the life of Fred Kent, who has devoted his life to creating public spaces for people.

He has over a decade of experience as the Founding Director of The Placemaking Mexico Foundation, where he has been at the forefront of efforts to construct, transform, and activate over 500 public spaces across Mexico and Latin America.

With a proven track record of forging strategic partnerships, collaborations, and alliances with public, private, and third-sector organizations, Guillermo's expertise has transcended borders. His leadership in programs, fundraising initiatives, and capacity-building has left an indelible mark on Mexico and Latin America.

Today, Guillermo is driven to extend his impact to global initiatives, leveraging his experience to continue driving positive change in communities worldwide through placemaking.

Mexico City
Location
Mexico City
Mexico
Organization/Title
PlacemakingX
Board Member
PlacemakingX Role(s)
Regional Leader
Board
Staff
Transformative Agenda Focus
Sustainability & Resilience
Place Governance
Economic Development & Innovation
Equity & Inclusion
Public Markets & Food

Placemaking is...

a global transformation movement that seeks to save the planet by fostering democracy in beloved public spaces close to home.

First placemaking encounter

Favorite childhood place

Fun Fact

Work

Guillermo graduated with great distinction from the Master in Urban Studies program 4 Cities—Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Brussels), Universität Wien (Vienna), Københavns Universitet (Copenhagen), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Madrid), and Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Madrid)—in 2013.

In 2014, Guillermo founded Lugares Publicos, a Mexican nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing participatory planning, workshops, and activation in public spaces. This initiative quickly gained momentum, catalyzing positive change in communities across Mexico.

Two years later, Guillermo's commitment to placemaking earned him recognition and support from Project for Public Spaces (PPS). As a grantee of PPS, he implemented their Heart of the Community Program in Mexico City. During this period, he became a fellow of Project for Public Spaces. This role allowed him to share his expertise and insights through numerous trainings in countries spanning Latin America, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, the Netherlands, China, Chile, and Colombia. His global perspective on placemaking began to take shape.

In 2018, Guillermo organized the second Placemaking Week Latin America, which saw 400 practitioners in public spaces gather in Mexico City to reflect and take action on how public spaces should be shaped in the region. Download the White Book from the Week here (Spanish)

In early 2019, Guillermo joined the startup team at PlacemakingX, a pivotal moment that would further elevate his influence in the placemaking movement. He became a Board Member and emerged as a global keynote speaker, sharing insights across Latin America, North America, Europe, and India about the importance of adopting an ecosystem approach to transform public spaces through placemaking.

Late 2019 marked a milestone in Guillermo's journey when he founded The Placemaking Mexico Foundation. This endeavor aimed to create programs supporting a network of Mexican organizations and movements dedicated to community-driven placemaking. As Executive Director, Guillermo oversaw the foundation's efforts, substantially impacting 500 communities throughout Mexico. Notable achievements include transforming 150 public spaces donated by the Coca-Cola Foundation and its Mexican bottlers and creating 50 child-friendly places supported by the FEMSA Foundation. These initiatives reflect Guillermo's unwavering dedication to improving the quality of life in his homeland and beyond.

In 2023, Guillermo took the role of Global Program Director, intending to orchestrate groundbreaking initiatives such as the first-ever Global Placemaking Summit and the Placemaking Agenda Papers. These initiatives have significantly impacted the placemaking movement, setting the stage for global transformation.

Public space activation in Juarez, Mexico
Hammocks installation in La Paz, Mexico
Community Art, Iztapalapa, Mexico
Park construction in Monterrey, Mexico
Public space activation in Mexico City
Public space activation in Mexico City
Public space activation in Parque Mexico, Mexico City
Happy places in early childhood in Culliancan, Mexico
Public space infrastructure in Ayala, Mexico
Color court in Guyamas, Mexico
Plaza Marimba, Mexico City

Key messages

Test a broad range of programming ideas; some ideas will work some will not. The important part of Placemaking is the process, not the result. Creating a successful place is more about feeling than a technique, but be methodical and have principles.