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Environmental Quality / 2013



Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by LA River Public Art Project (c/o ERW Design)

Park-in-a-Box (PIB) is a moveable pop-up park. Two shipping containers outfitted to carry park amenities will travel to neighborhood sites for specific community events. Using under-utilized open spaces in Los Angeles, community outreach organizations will schedule an event, order PIB, unpack and configure the containers, and help to activate a neighborhood public space. We anticipate up to four scheduled events during this initial pilot program phase scheduled by our partner community organizations. Park-in-a-Box is a kit of park essentials – chairs, tables, umbrellas, kids’ playgrounds, bbq grills, etc. – as well as specialty items requested for particular initiatives- inflatable installations, projectors, sound system, staging areas, and lights. Once the contents are unpacked, the containers themselves unfold and transform into visual anchors of the park. Voila! The park is ready! Please visit for more information about how Park-in-a-Box works (more images after the jump).

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

ERW Design + SALT have partnered to develop the Park-in-a-Box concept. ERW Design ( is an award-winning, multi-disciplinary architecture firm whose work is based on the intersection of the built form and the landscape. Founded in 1999, ERW Design has completed over 40 institutional, residential, and landscape projects throughout the Los Angeles area. ERW Design is experienced working with a wide array of neighborhoods and communities throughout Los Angeles. Some notable projects include the Marsh Park Pavilion at Marsh Park, the first regional park on the LA River in Elysian Village; the Vista Hermosa Park structures in downtown Los Angeles; Beverly Gardens Park Restoration in Beverly Hills; and an all-ages exhibition gallery at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. ERW Design received the Grand Prize, as well as the award for best Civic Project for their work at Vista Hermosa Park. The project received Best Urban Project by the Los Angeles AIA in 2009.
SALT Landscape Architects ( is a Los Angeles-based design studio focused on creating enduring, engaging, and innovative landscapes on a range of scales. The firm’s name, derived from “salt of the earth,” reflects the sense of grounding that we strive for in all of our projects. SALT has been working with the Trust for Public Land (, also our partner for Park-in-a-Box, over the past year to bring significant changes to the Avalon community of Los Angeles, south of downtown. SALT developed a master plan for the pedestrian opportunities in the community, including a thorough analysis of the existing pedestrian challenges and degraded mobility infrastructure. We also developed designs for the conversion of more than 1,800 linear feet of alleyways into storm water infiltration centers and enhanced pedestrian and bicycle pathways. This project has already received over $1.7 million in funding to date in public funding from various local, county and state agencies and expects to have the construction documents completed by the end of 2013. SALT also co-founded the Take Back the Boulevard (TBTB) initiative in 2011 in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of northeast Los Angeles. TBTB is seeking to bring significant pedestrian improvements to Colorado Boulevard through a grass-roots and community based effort, focused on recapturing a portion of the public right-of-way from automobile traffic and reallocating it for other modes of transportation. Through a series of outreach efforts facilitated by the TBTB steering committee, the initiative has brought the community together to identify ways of making Colorado Boulevard more humanely-scaled and more of a “Main Street” with a vibrant business district and pedestrian life. Both SALT and ERW Design continue to seek unique opportunities to work closely with local constituencies to develop innovative approaches to remaking Los Angeles incrementally more humane and sustainable.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

PIB has already received a statement of support from the Trust for Public Land’s Parks for People Program in Los Angeles (, which works with local residents to transform vacant lots and underutilized spaces to vibrant active parks all over Los Angeles. The Trust for Public Land recognizes PIB as a valuable tool for quickly activating vacant or underused lots while waiting for the sometimes lengthy park development process to unfold. As the design team, ERW + SALT will work closely with the Trust for Public Land and other community organizations with similar missions, who will play a key role in the successful implementation of PIB.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

For this pilot program, we will closely evaluate and assess the project using primarily qualitative methods, namely incorporating observations and feedback into a design feedback loop. We will be present at the pilot events and observe the on-site activities and usage. In addition, we will interview user groups and outreach groups to gain a better understanding of how Park-in-a-Box is performing with regard to our expectations and user expectations. Given the feedback we receive in the pilot stage, we will work with user groups and our partners to refine the program to ensure continued usage of the basic Park-in-the-Box infrastructure. If PIB is successful, communities will ask our partners to extend the initiative in their community, schedule another event, or request additional initiatives utilizing PIB. A successful PIB pilot program will energize a neighborhood and be an example of a quick and effective solution to the lack of nearby access to usable open space in Los Angeles.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Los Angeles has many park-poor neighborhoods and many communities have limited access to usable open space. Obesity levels are high, caused in part by lack of access to active spaces and programs. Park-in-a-Box, with partner organizations, will provide access to underutilized space in underserved neighborhoods, and provide the ingredients necessary for lively and useable open spaces. Through this new model, Park-in-a-Box hopes to draw attention to the need for public spaces within these communities and encourage Angelinos to re-evaluate how we think about public space in our city. Please visit for more information about how Park-in-a-Box works (more images after the jump).

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Park-in-the-Box has the potential to kickstart the conversion of empty lots into permanent neighborhood assets. Success in the year 2050 would see the doubling of permanent small and medium sized public spaces in identified park-poor neighborhoods, and the City of Los Angeles would be recognized as the national leader in promoting neighborhood open spaces. PIB is a catalyst for neighborhood change and a strong contributor to building a greener, healthier city for all communities.