The placemaking field is growing rapidly, and successful pop-up techniques (also known as tactical urbanism) are revolutionizing planning and design across the country. Pop-up design helps users access and interact with familiar public spaces in new ways by implementing temporary installations such as:

  • Playground structures
  • Benches
  • Art
  • Wayfinding
  • Plants
  • Street amenities (like protected bike lanes)

From pop­up bike lanes to parks, these temporary and low cost installations can help communities make smart and effective investments in infrastructure while bringing life and energy to public spaces.

Here in Colorado, Radian uses pop-up design techniques to improve livability — from economic development to tourism to safer streets and more engaging spaces. Pop-up design helps communities engage residents, test and refine designs, and activate spaces in advance of permanent projects. This saves money, speeds up results, and builds enthusiasm and community support.

Radian recently held a pop-up design event as part of our ACTIVATE 38 project in order to improve how communities think and interact with a specific public space in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. ACTIVATE 38 is a community-led initiative to increase use and improve safety for active transportation, transit and wheelchair rolling along 38th Avenue between Kipling and Youngfield in Wheat Ridge. During Phase 1 of the project, a coalition of residents, businesses, schools, organizations, and city officials dedicated to making Wheat Ridge a vibrant and sustainable city worked together to gather community input about what this public space could look like.

We brought the Tiny Wonderful — a portable placemaking trailer and library full of user-friendly pop-up design tools — to 38th Avenue in Wheat Ridge to explore ways to make the space more pedestrian and bike friendly, and make it easier for residents in the corridor to access schools, recreation and retail. The priority areas we identified are improvements to crosswalks, sidewalks segments near transit, improving lighting for safety, and techniques for slowing down traffic such as speed checkers and signage.


Hosting events like this allow us to bring placemaking to the people. Now in Phase 2, ACTIVATE 38 will address the priorities for improvements of this intersection in 2019-2020, based on community input.

Interested in having the Tiny Wonderful at your next event, or learning more about pop-up design? Don’t hesitate to reach out – we’d love to hear from you!

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Address: 3264 Larimer Street, Suite D, Denver, CO 80205 | Email: