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53rd Avenue Community Playground

Client: City of Hillsboro
Collaboration: MIG Inc. – Portland
Location: Hillsboro, Oregon
Completion Date: Spring 2023

At the 53rd Avenue Community Park in Hillsboro, Oregon, the new GIANT inclusive playground reflects the theme, “woods gone wild!”

In collaboration with the team at MIG (Portland) and with local citizen input, precedent images of trolls and giants won the hearts of the community and design team. The City of Hillsboro previously featured temporary public art made of woven willow resembling the faces of giants. They became beloved characters in the community.  

Character Development

After a wilderness hike, the creative team got to work to create a storyboard and hand sketch illustrations. This was a way to develop the character that would eventually become The Forest Giant. Following in the large footsteps of children’s storybook characters like the Iron Giant, B.F.G., and Clifford the Big Red Dog, this new being has a gentle and innocent spirit. Laying on the forest floor with an outstretched hand and playfully bent legs, children feel the invitation to join the Giant’s world!   

The Site

The 53rd Avenue site is surrounded by majestic, sweeping pine trees that wrap around the Forest Giant, the keeper of the woods.  As visitors approach the Giant, they will see its feet poking up in the air, creating a curious moment of “what is that?” As they enter the wooded playspace they will see oversized hands and feet and be drawn to the Giant’s inquisitive pose.

The Forest Giant

The shape of the lazing, peaceful Forest Giant enables a variety of play experiences for visitors. Like explorers from the land of Lilliput, children can investigate the surrounding features like the enormous tree stumps and vibrant butterflies.  

The Giant is inclusive from a physical standpoint. The creature is outstretched to create a sprawling space with many low and ground-level play affordances. Adventuresome climbers will reach towering vantage points on the back or in the head to peek out the eyes.

The facial expression is inquisitive and tender. The team agreed early on to purposefully leave the character’s gender open-ended; a detail to be left up to the child’s imagination.

The Giant’s body creates moments for social play, physical or adventurous play, and quiet spaces for hiding or peaceful solitude.  It will inevitably become another much-loved character in the community of Hillsboro.