Re-Imagine Normal Street

If you are looking for something fun to do next weekend, head over to Normal Street in Hillcrest.Detailed-Reimagine-Poster-

Pop Up Event Best Practices

As professional planners, engineers and elected officials, we’re always trying to find ways to engage the public through workshops. While some topics will inherently draw large (sometimes angry) crowds for discussions such as increasing density or removing parking, many active transportation projects don’t have that kind of following just yet.

For most of the city or region-wide active transportation projects I’ve worked on, people either don’t know what they are about, don’t walk, bike or use transit or just don’t care. If it doesn’t directly affect their daily lives, then it’s not worth participating. It’s even more difficult in disadvantaged communities to engage residents. Whether it’s a language barrier, other cultural factors, no interest, or maybe even “planning fatigue,” it’s still very important to reach out as best you can. In fact, it’s these disadvantaged communities that benefit the most from active transportation projects like protected bike lanes, enhanced street crossings, sidewalks and traffic calming. Let’s face it, for many, it’s their only mode of transportation.

How many times have we been to traditional workshops or open houses where there’s a presentation, followed by break-outs to view maps and illustrations, then Q&A or collaboration with team members making their rounds? Sometimes it works great, sometimes it doesn’t. The real battle is getting people there in the first place.

In the past few years, we’ve worked more and more in disadvantaged communities, and it’s been a lot of fun. But the challenge of public engagement always looms. Does social media work here? How have workshops been conducted in the past? What’s the turnout like? Who should we target? What do we need to do to get people to attend?

The real question should be, “How do we reach the residents?”

It’s fairly simple; go to where you know they’ll be. Health fairs, Easter egg hunts, farmers markets, firework shows, music events, neighborhood block parties, etc. For corridor studies, pop a tent along the study area during peak times.

Depending on the project, venue and expected participation, cost and time will vary, but preparations can be much less involved than for a traditional workshop. Space, meaning your booth, is usually provided, your audience will be there, no presentations are needed, but a succinct project description spiel is always welcome. Displays can be simplified to quickly get the point across and other pertinent material can be readily available for when participants really get engaged.

The following are simple strategies to attract participants to your booth.

      • Provide freebies -Utilize project branded items such as bike bells, water bottles, recyclable shopping bags, cups, frisbees, snacks, etc. Many cities already have these promotional materials they wouldn’t mind using for these events


        • Provide quick services- For bike and pedestrian related projects, provide a bike pump to fill tires, bike tools, water, snacks, etc.
        • Attractive (and bright colored) informative graphics and branding - To separate yourself from the sometimes endless tents that line these events, provide bright colored infographics, banners and catchy themes. For example, instead of a banner stating, “City Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, or City General Plan,” try “We Need Your Input!,” “Do You Like Biking or Walking in Your City?”, “Make Walking and Biking Better In Your City,!” or “Make Walking and Biking Better For Your Kids”
        • Kid-friendly-  As much as possible, make your booth kid-friendly. Provide treats, coloring materials, Legos, building blocks, board games, etc. You’re likely to get more out of participants with kids if they know their children can be momentarily pre-occupied and enjoying themselves. Who doesn’t like Legos?


      • Provide ways for participants to give input at and away from the booth -  Have postcards, flyers or business-size cards with project and survey information to take home if they don’t have time at the event. Have surveys ready on-hand for those that want to participate, then give out a treat or freebie for filling it out. Incentives always work.
      • Keep input brief and interactive -  Knowing that people are at these events to enjoy themselves, keep the input methods short and sweet. Those that are passionate about the project will get engaged and start discussions. Many are willing to provide input, especially if it takes less than a minute. Provide white boards, stickers, chalkboards, etc. that participants can just place a sticker, or quickly comment on. Reading other comments may even spark additional conversations and ideas.


      • Market the next workshop or event – Plan the events ahead of time so you can advertise the next event with “Save the Date” cards or posters they can photograph. QR Tags are another option.
      • Provide translation -  Know the community you’re working in. Have all your materials in the languages needed and staff available for translation.
      • Provide a “Passport” if applicable to the event -  This is a great ways to “force” participants to attend your booth. These are cards that either get stamped or signed at the various booths and when completed, are entered in a raffle for prizes. Prizes can range from gift cards to bicycles. Some events include these passports to maximize sponsor exposure and to encourage civic engagement.
      • Tactical Urbanism -  Depending on the location and type of event, time frame, audience and available space, installing a demonstration is an effective tool to show facilities such as a cycle track, storm water retention basins and even pocket parks. Tactical urbanism is an emerging trend to demonstrate the scale and general design of uncommon urban design and transportation elements that may not exist in the community.IMG_2921-reduced
      • Most of all, smile and have fun! It’s that simple.

Civic engagement doesn’t always have to be challenging. Be creative, know your audience and utilize all your resources. Many times, it’s the most rewarding part of a project.

In this profession it is easy to get caught up in the ever-changing realm of digital technologies. Visual simulation renderings, computer generated 3D models, and animations quickly transport people to places that don’t exist and transpose what was only a vision in a designer’s mind. KTU+A has always lead the charge to push the boundaries of what technology could do. We have implemented it into our projects to help communicate our ideas to our clients. However, sometimes we find ourselves going back to our educational roots of design by getting out a pencil and letting ideas flow onto the paper. We thought it would be fun to combine the two and capture a good old fashion rendering through the technology of time-lapse video that resulted in something that we hope will inspire you to pull out your sketchbooks.
Happy Halloween!

Owl Monster Minion Burger Bike TurtleKTUAers fled their desks into the parking lot where they selected the best canvas to transform an orange gourd into something spectacular. They once again tested their carving, painting, and light carpentry skills as they participated in the second annual team pumpkin decorating contest.susan

s and dOnce completed, the masterpieces were on display for judging and ‘office mom’ Sharon Singleton revived fatigued carvers with homemade chili, cornbread and salad.k and bLunchJudges, partial to actual carving vs. decorating, awarded first prize to Drew Wilson and Brooke Whalen for their innovation with a desk fan. A tie for second included Cheri Blatner and Juan Bonilla with their tasty looking giant hamburger and Jacon Leon and Amy Hoffman for their ethereal owl. All around, the results were incredible proving that the creativity, or maybe just good Pinterest research, is not lacking in this office.a and j

Lunch (2)




PARK(ing) Day is a global event in which a variety of artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform parking and non-programmed open spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places or parklets. KTU+A has been participating in this event for the past 4-5 years, and while we typically work together for this event, the company’s growth and ideas can’t be contained to just one design. So this year, KTU+A’s Planning and Landscape Architecture departments will go head-to-head in a design competition for year-long bragging rights (aka fun trash talking).

We encourage everyone to come out and experience the two parklets and vote on your favorite one. You decide on who has the best and most fun design. So please come out and have some fun. We hope to see you there!

Why: Fun!
When: Friday, September 18, 2015, 9am-1pm
Where: Normal Street, between Harvey Milk Way and University Avenue, in front of the KTU+A office

Designing Habitats With Technology – KTU+A Featured Article


Ecological restoration and habitat creation are benefiting tremendously from the variety of software available to help analyze, design, visualize and construct complex systems and subtle topographies. While landscape architecture is embracing 3D drafting and illustrative modeling, habitat restoration can especially benefit from the use of many of these software options. In Denver, Mark, Dave, and Allegra presented an overview of a variety of software that are used in this facet of landscape architecture.

Read the rest at the link below!