CASE: Balboa Park Cultural Partnership-Greening Balboa Park

 Balboa Park Cultural PartnershipOverview

How do you tell the story of a fun and natural place to a serious energy engineering crowd? How do you account for the contributions of over 20 participating institutions, a public utility and a consultancy, without making the image too dense? Combine friendly snapshots with large formatted numbers that capture the big outcomes. Use nature motifs in the back ground and crisp linear language in the foreground. 


Develop a compelling visual display for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership (BPCP) to support their sustainability initiative story at an international energy conference. The content of the display includes the timeline and major initiatives for “Greening” Balboa Park from 2004 to date.


San Diego’s Balboa Park is a highly complex network of institutions, museums, buildings, park areas, not to mention the world famous San Diego Zoo. BPCP has over 20 member institutions in the park. Additionally, the sustainability effort has included collaboration with San Diego Gas & Electric, a consultancy, and others. Representing the enormity and complexity of the BPCP “greening” task while making the display friendly, easily read, and attractive was one core challenge. Lastly, the conference audience is highly technical, while Balboa Park is a civic treasure trove of art, culture, and nature in the middle of a city. How do you tell the story of a fun and natural place to a serious energy engineering crowd?


We met with BPCP, SDG&E, and HMG to get consensus how the display would be used, developed an information architecture for the display, and then organized their respective contributions of copy, images, and logos. We focused the editing process through one point of contact at BPCP to ensure that they would be the final arbiter of content. Because Balboa Park is an international tourist destination, we chose a “Polaroid snapshot” motif for frames of photos of each of the buildings that the energy efficiency project had or will touch.


In the course of 4 iterative cycles we went from a concept sketch created during our first meeting to a final display design and copy. To make the finish product shippable, the display was broken into 4 printed panels and each was mounted to foam board. The panels were attached to each other in a way that made it easy to fold up the whole display down to a package that was 2’ x 4’ and about 6” thick. Lastly, the design was executed in PowerPoint. This enabled the client to reuse all the electronic elements in other presentations and print documents, thus making the most of their investment.